When fertility treatment is “free”

Couples who take advantage of public funding for fertility treatments are changing the demographics of what has traditionally been a group of higher earners with more education.  That’s what a recent study  in Canada discovered once the government decided to cover the cost of up to three rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.

Since IVF generally costs an average of $12,000 per cycle, and it isn’t normally covered by most insurance policies, it is a select group of couples who are in a position to afford the treatments. In the U.S., it’s estimated that about one out of every eight women of reproductive age, and their partners are affected by infertility issues.

The recent study took place in Quebec, and it found larger numbers of lower income, less well-educated and unemployed couples seeking fertility treatment when public funding was available to cover the costs.  More than 3600 couples participated.

Interestingly, similar studies in the U.S. completed earlier, run counter to these findings.  They showed that when patients have access to public funding, it doesn’t make the patient base more diverse.  The conclusion was that even though the funding barrier was removed, other challenges (including social, economic and ethnic issues) remain.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 

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Contributed by

James A. Simon

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