Cash crisis for infertility treatment prompting couples to go for multiple embryo implantations

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With the rise in costs for fertility treatments, more and more Australian women are requesting their specialists to implant more than one embryo in their wombs. This is resulting in a rise in twin and triplet births.

At present the cuts in the Medicare subsidies have raised the patient costs of each IVF cycle by around $1,500. This, according to specialists is causing may women to delay or drop the idea of conception. This rise in costs is also a reason why many women are insisting on multiple embryo implantation that can increase their chances of getting pregnant in one cycle. Multiple births, say researchers carry a five times greater risk of death, preterm birth and other pregnancy and newborn complications.

Gab Kovacs, international medical director at Monash IVF in Melbourne said, “They're [Couples are] saying, we understand that it's more dangerous but we can't afford to do another cycle so we'll have two embryos put back and we'll deal with the consequences. If our [premature] baby … has to have eight weeks in intensive care, well Medicare pays for that.”

Medical director of Fertility First in Hurstville, Sydney, Dr Anne Clark confirmed the trend. IVF Australia medical director and Fertility Society president Peter Illingworth believes that this will affect the health system. He said, “There can be long-term health complications for twins born as a result of IVF…'Ideally, we would like to put one embryo in at a time because of those risks but we are getting more pressure from patients to do two.”

This January federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon capped Medicare safety net payments that was paying 80% of the discrepancy between doctor’s fees and the Medicare rebate after a report that suggested that specialists were overcharging patients. She also said that that a typical cycle would cost around $6,000. Specialists disagree saying that an average cycle can cost up to $7500 which may increase if the patient needs extra treatment. The whole move has put couples with fertility problems under a financial stress.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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