B.C. Could Save $78 Million by Funding In Vitro Fertilization

VANCOUVER, Feb. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - As B.C.'s first Family Day approaches, a new economic impact report shows the Province could save millions of dollars by offering IVF treatment to the estimated one in six British Columbians who suffer from infertility.

British Columbia could save $78 million healthcare dollars in the first five years alone if it funded single embryo transfer in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, according to the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada (IAAC) report. A similar policy in Quebec has reportedly led to significant public healthcare savings, through a reduction in multiple births and related health complications.

"The full expense of funding IVF will be completely offset by savings in hospitalization and long-term disability costs, which result from a reduction in multiple births," states Lindy Forte, the health economics analyst who authored the report. Multiples are 17 times more likely to be born pre-term and require expensive care at birth and throughout their lives to cope with physical and learning disabilities.

When surveyed by IAAC on the issue, almost half (43 per cent) of British Columbians report having been affected by infertility personally or through family, friends and acquaintances. Forty-two per cent are unable to proceed with treatment because of the cost. Over three quarters (78 per cent) of British Columbians support public funding for IVF treatments when they consider the potential cost savings to the province. Additionally, 70 per cent of British Columbians polled say they would likely vote for a political party that supports funding IVF in order to reduce the long-term health and social care costs.

"IVF is the clinical best practice for treating infertility," says Dr. Timothy Rowe, Head of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at UBC. "However, because IVF treatments, which range from $5,500-$8,000 plus medication, are not covered in British Columbia, many couples choose to transfer more than one embryo per treatment cycle to increase their chances of getting pregnant."

As a result, B.C. has among the highest multiple birth rates through IVF, at approximately 28 per cent. This is in sharp contrast to jurisdictions like Quebec, whose multiple birth rate has declined to between 5-7 per cent with the introduction of public funding for IVF treatments. Other jurisdictions around the world, such as Australia, Belgium, Finland and Sweden have also experienced reductions in the rate of multiple births through IVF to well below 10 per cent since adopting a model of public funding.

Asked what British Columbians would do if faced with infertility and requiring treatment, 36 per cent report incurring debt, 33 per cent report cashing in investments and 28 per cent say they would get an extra job.

Other highlights from the cost benefit report find that, over the first five years, publicly funding IVF treatment (tied to a single embryo transfer policy) in British Columbia will result in:

  • 67 per cent fewer twins and 88 per cent fewer triplets
  • 598 fewer premature multiples
  • Annual savings of about $12-$13 million in perinatal hospitalization costs
  • Annual savings of about $7-$8 million in post-natal costs related to the first year care of the surviving low birth weight babies
  • Annual savings of about $22-$27 million in long-term health and social services costs of caring for children with permanent disabilities as a result of pre-term birth.

The report's analysis is a conservative estimate of net savings to the government on health costs, because it does not include the financial impact of a parent's inability to work, the cost of managing stress or depression that can be significant with multiple births, the additional 'start up' costs for multiple clothing, high chairs, car seats and other equipment that is necessary to raise a family. Also, it does not include the lifetime revenue gained with the birth of additional healthy taxpaying citizens.

SOURCE: Infertility Awareness Association of Canada

For further information:

For more information or to speak to the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada, Lindy Forte, health economics analyst, or Dr. Timothy Rowe, Head of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at UBC, please contact:

Jeremy Twigg

IAAC website - www.iaac.ca
IVF4BC website - www.ivf4bc.ca
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ivf4bc/122328164594435
Twitter - https://twitter.com/ivf4bc/ 
December 2012 IAAC survey news release:

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Infertility Awareness Association of Canada

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