In-Vitro Fertilization Funding Saves Taxpayers Money: Why Does Only Quebec Get It?

English: 8-cell human embryo, day 3
English: 8-cell human embryo, day 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prior to the Ontario election I was approached to write a series of posts on In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and the fact that Ontario could save around $500 million dollars over 10 years if the government funded IVF as Quebec already does.  For those posts I received considerable feedback, all of it positive, yet the Ontario Liberal government continues to monitor IVF instead of acting on this obvious win for everyone involved and funding it.

I cannot for the life of me figure out when the Liberal government has not acted on this yet, other than to chalk it up as laziness.  It is much easier to raise taxes than to implement a policy to save lives, ease the burden of bearing children from people who really want them (and can clearly afford families) and save money for the tax paying public.

Well Ontario, you voted for the Liberals and they have done nothing.

In Alberta, a recent study came out which shows significant savings can be had there and the hope is that the Alberta government follows the lead of Quebec and funds IVF, and not the lead of Ontario.

Some Ontario facts for you Alberta…

75% of Ontarians support OHIP funding of IVF similar to Quebec and that support is high among all Ontarians regardless of who they voted for in the last provincial election, so it’s not going to cost you voters.

In Ontario, where the cost of IVF is not covered by OHIP, most couples choose to transfer multiple embryos rather than a single embryo. As a result, the rate of multiple births from IVF in Ontario is roughly 28% compared to below 10% in other jurisdictions.  Why is this an issue?  Because multiple births are 17 times more likely to be born pre-term, to require a caesarean delivery and to need expensive care at birth and throughout their lives.  This falls on the medical system which we all pay into.

In 2009, the Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption recommended that the province of Ontario fund up to 3 cycles of IVF and adopt policies that reduce the number of multiple pregnancies through IVF.  This panel estimated that the savings to the healthcare system through a reduction in the number of multiple births through IVF would be between $400 million and $550 million.

This became a no-brainer when in August 2010, Québec became the first jurisdiction in Canada to publicly fund comprehensive up to three cycles of IVF treatments.  One year later, it became a leader in the reduction of multiple pregnancies by bringing the rate down from 27.2% to 5.2%.

Conceivable Dreams, is a grassroots patient organization representing thousands of infertile couples across Ontario and they feel that, “With one of the highest rates of multiple births through IVF in the country and a need to control healthcare costs, Ontario simply cannot ignore this issue any longer.  What has worked in Québec can work in Ontario.”

On the West side of Canada there is also a call for government support through Generations of Hope,, an Alberta based patient group raising awareness of infertility and the need for government support towards treatments like IVF.

This is not just a monetary issue, however, as infertility and the barriers to effective treatment – specifically costs – continue to be an issue impacting Canadians.  Infertility is an emotionally painful experience and its impossible to estimate the effect it has on the lives of individuals, on a couple and on families.  Celebrating first steps, birthday parties, first day at JK and graduations are significantly delayed, or worse never come to pass.

The Calgary Herald recently ran a story in infertility in Canada; and in this article they state that researchers do not know why there is an increase in infertility in woman.  “According to their estimates, up to 16 per cent of heterosexual couples where the woman is age 18 to 44 are experiencing infertility — a near doubling since the previous time infertility was measured in the nation in 1992.”

In 1992, 8.5% of women age 18 to 44 who were married or living common-law were considered infertile.  In 1984, the figure was 5.4%.

Quebec is on track to save hundreds of millions of dollars as the number of twins and triplets in neonatal intensive care units is expected to drop significantly.  Public funding for IVF will save the Alberta health care system millions and millions of dollars.  Recent research estimates a 60% reduction in rate of multiple births through IVF and $78 million in net savings to their health care system in the first 5 years alone.

Broken down that 60% reduction means, 44% fewer twins, 90% fewer triplets, 585 fewer premature babies born.   A reduction in prenatal, delivery and neonatal costs of about $29 million and a reduction in long-term disability costs of approximately $156 million, a net savings to the healthcare system of $78 million.

The numbers make sense.

The burden on families does not need to be there.

Why are we punishing couples for wanting to have children by bankrupting them while we are forced to bear the financial burden in our health care system(s).  If these folks are willing to spend every dollar they have to create a family we should no punish them, we should work with them.  Are these not the people we want having children?  Ones who would do everything in their power to have and take care of them.  Common sense says yes.

Today, one in six Alberta couples struggle with infertility, and IVF is often their best or only treatment option. However, since IVF costs an average of $7,500 per treatment cycle plus up to $6,000 in medication costs, many couples choose to implant more than one embryo to increase their chance of pregnancy.  As a result, Albertans using IVF are more likely to have a multiple birth.  Unfortunately, multiples are 17 times more likely to require expensive care before and after birth and perhaps even throughout their lives.

Reach out to your elected officials, or to the local interest group mentioned above and let them know that you support public funding of IVF for emotional or for financial reasons (or both).

Please feel free to comment here, I will reply to your post, but please if your intent is to determine whether others should be having children, or if that decision is G-d’s decision, then do NOT leave a comment here.  This article was clearly lost on you and I will delete the comment.




Note: I have been compensated to write this post.

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