The Sydney Morning Herald ran a front page article last week, noting that in the region of 1000 babies were missing (ie not conceived and born) as a result of the Australian Government’s cuts to rebates for IVF patients.
The government cut the amount of money that couples could claim back from Medicare by making changes to the Medicare Safety Net effective January 2010. This has led to a greater “out of pocket” amount that couples now have to pay, to have IVF treatment and consequently, the number of IVF cycles undertaken around the country fell significantly from that very point. The Herald has factored in the success rates from IVF and divided this into the “missing” cycle numbers and recognised that at least 850 less babies have been born as a result. In fact the number of missing babies might be higher as younger couples have a higher success rate, yet those couples are more likely not to have the means to afford treatment.
I think it’s a tragedy, and a short sighted one from the current government. Even if they think only about economics, the best way to keep the economy healthy is to have babies! They cost money to house, feed, clothe and educate; they grow up to have jobs and pay lots of tax over their lifetime. Investing in IVF reimbursement is cheap by comparison!
If you have infertility, can you do anything about it? Well, 15% of couples have trouble conceiving, so there are a lot of you! – Probably more than politicians realise. Something to think about if your local pollie greets you over the next few days….!