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Is IVF good value for money?

14 June 2010
Appeared in BioNews 562

A new study looking at the economic costs and consequences of assisted reproductive technology (ART) has concluded that governments reap long-term economic benefits from funding ART services.

The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRS) Infertility and Society Task Force, who published the report, found that how ART treatment is funded and subsidised is an important control on its use, treatment choices available, embryo transfer practices and, ultimately, multiple birth rates.

The authors report that governments receive the equivalent of an eight-fold return on investment 30 years after a child conceived by IVF enters the workforce, given it costs approximately €15,000 to conceive an IVF child. The authors argue that this high estimated return on investment for ART children could mean it makes good clinical and economic sense to provide affordable treatment for those who need it.

Affordability is a powerful determinant of whether couples pursue ART treatment. Public funding of ART ranges from virtually no subsidy in the US to funding of a limited number of cycles based on female age in most European countries.

The cost, as a proportion of an individual's annual disposable income, of a single ART cycle can range from 50 per cent in the US to 20 per cent in the UK. After government subsidies, the costs in the US remained unchanged, whereas those in the UK fell to 12 per cent.

Affordability can influence clinical practice: the financial incentive to achieve pregnancy in a limited number of cycles can lead to the transfer of multiple embryos.

Affordability also influences consumer behaviour. The authors found that patients lacking financial support often sought cross-border reproductive treatment in countries with cheaper or less restrictive services than those in their native country. The risks of this lie in potentially lower standards of care and less responsible embryo transfer practices.

In addition to this, there is evidence that lack of affordable treatment encourages patients and clinicians to opt for cheaper fertility treatments such as stimulated intrauterine insemination and ovulation stimulation. These often less regulated procedures have less controllable means of minimising multiple births.

Is IVF good value for money? Why funding of assisted reproduction is sound fiscal policy
AlphaGalileo |  8 June 2010
22 July 2019 - by Dr Mark Connolly 
Tax-financed health systems like the UK's NHS are 'pay-as-you-go' systems reliant on younger and healthier individuals paying into a system used by citizens throughout their lifetime, but mostly consumed in older ages...
6 December 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
Stockport NHS Trust has announced it is to stop funding IVF treatment for new patients. The Primary Care Trust (PCT), which is attempting to implement spending cuts totalling £21 million, will allow patients currently on its IVF waiting list to receive one cycle of treatment...
21 June 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
Gynaecologists in Holland can now refuse access to IVF treatment to women they deem to be unsuitable. This includes those who have 'unstable relationships or serious psychological problems....
9 June 2010 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Data recently obtained by the Sunday Times newspaper, via a Freedom of Information Act enquiry to the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), show that an average of 80 pregnancies achieved through IVF treatment are terminated each year....
5 June 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
Political consensus in Denmark has resulted in an amendment to legislation governing IVF funding. According to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), free public health services will no longer extend towards assisted reproduction treatments (ART)....
24 May 2010 - by Rosemary Paxman 
IVF could become the routine method of conception for 30-40 year olds within a decade, scientists predict...
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