February 24, 2024

Australian govt proposes cutbacks to IVF funding

IVF has become a political football in Australia after Federal government ministers hinted that women’s entitlement to funding for unlimited IVF cycles would be rolled back in its May budget. Nobody’s going to stop IVF treatment where IVF treatment has reasonable chance of success,” says Treasurer Peter Costello. “But there’s no point in giving treatments where there is a very, very low chance of success.” Apparently the government is planning to cover only three cycles a year for women under 42 and three cycles in total for older women.

After Medicare’s share of the costs of IVF treatment rose by 25% in 2004, Health Minister Tony Abbott also claimed that some IVF doctors might be “profiteering”. In Australia, the average cost of an IVF cycle is about $8000, with the government picking up about half the bill. However, the IVF industry denied that there had been a substantial increase in charges. “The maximum increase on any clinic was just under 10%,” said Professor Michael Chapman, of the Fertility Society of Australia. Sniffing an opportunity to make some political mileage, the Shadow Health Minister, Julia Gillard, also attacked the mooted changes and launched a petition to protest against caps on IVF subsidies. Women are concerned they may not be able to have a baby, she said.