Infertility is a significant medical condition like anything else which currently affects 1 in 6 couples. In 40% of cases the problem is with the male. The last resort or only option for some is In-vitro fertilization (IVF) which has a high success rate however it is the most expensive fertility treatments and therefore out of reach for many who need it. The province of Ontario could save hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term health care expenses by making this procedure fully available for all those in need rather than providing coverage for only women with one condition (complete bilateral anatomical fallopian tube blockage). The government’s stance does not promote gender equality and is simply discrimination! We need to keep the conversation going to get the results we want. It worked in Quebec, it can work here. OHIP covered assisted reproductive treatments is: the right thing to do.
This isn’t only about reproductive treatment it is about the access to universal health care —a health care system which provides health care and financial protection to all its citizens. It is organized around providing a specified package of benefits to all members of a society with the end goal of providing financial risk protection, improved access to health services, and improved health outcomes.
When you think you’re finally ready to start a family you shouldn’t have to simultaneously decide if you’re going to spend your life savings or take out a loan to have a chance of fulfilling that dream. Some sadly can’t even afford to make one of those difficult choices. See when people without any medical issues decide to start a family it is just a matter of nature taking its course and eventually they have a child. For others who have various fertility complications, some diagnosed while others remain simply unexplained the journey is long, frustrating, stressful and emotionally draining but above all an economic burden.
Assisted fertility treatments most notably IVF (In- vitro fertilization) can cost anywhere between $10,000 to $15, 000, and that’s just for the chance to try. There are no guarantees that the process will be successful one on the first attempt, but that is the cost of trying. The government has taken a stance that it will assist women who have “infertility due to complete bilateral anatomical fallopian tube blockage that has not resulted from a sterilization procedure” however what about the rest of the population that have infertility due to other medical conditions at no fault of their own including men. Statistics suggest that 35 to 40 percent of infertility occurs with the male. This appears to be another case of ignorance and discrimination on the part of our beloved government.
As tax payers we are already paying for infertility treatment in other ways without any realization. Let’s take a couple living in Ontario who don’t qualify for public funding IVF treatments, they are forced to pursue less costly, less effective but more dangerous alternatives, such as ovarian stimulation with hormone injections to boost their chances of getting pregnant, but as a result increase their chance of having multiples. Multiples are at an increased risk of being born pre-term and could face severe medical and developmental complications that last a lifetime. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) estimates that the average life-time cost of a multiple-birth child in Canada is $520,000. We as tax payers are covering these cost right now. The Government of Ontario has done two separate studies on fertility funding and both concluded that not only would there be improvement to the health of mothers and babies, but it will also result in a cost saving of hundreds of millions of dollars for the province. This is exactly what has happened in Quebec since they implemented provincially assisted fertility treatment in 2010.
Take another couple who decides to save for a couple years, borrow the money from family, depletes their savings and or takes out a second mortgage to fund their family, what is the likelihood that they will try for one baby? Yep pretty slim, when you know your chance of success depends on various factors including age; there’s a great deal of economic pressure added. A couple simply cannot endure the financial and emotional strain this experience presents a second time. As a result they are also forced to take the chance of implanting multiple embryos with the same implications as before.
However on the flip side; if treatment was subsidized, affordable and available to all that needed it, there would be no need to use less than optimal treatments methods which provide little control over the number of embryos transferred and therefore reducing the incidence of multiple births. When couples have the option of publicly funded IVF treatment they are more likely to focus on a single live birth because they know, when and if they decide to expand their family, they would have access to the support they need. This reduces the long-term financial burden on our healthcare system as well as many other services.
You or I may not currently be facing any of these difficult decisions, however it is similar to having car insurance; you don’t wait until you need it to get it. You have it to give you peace of mind. Wouldn’t we all like to know that if we were the 1 in 6 Canadian couples affected by infertility, the health care system that we pay taxes into will be there to support us? If we’re spending the money anyways why not spend it in a way that’s fair and equitable for all? It may not be your reality today, but one day it may become your reality, your sons, daughter and or grandchild. Infertility affects us all and there are many contributing aspects including the food we eat and the environmental toxins we are exposed to, to mention a few.
The Ministry of Health should be equitable and economically responsible with our tax dollars; provide provincially funded fertility treatment to all because: It’s the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.