Medicare cuts threaten IVF outcomes

Many families considering IVF have missed their chance after Medicare assistance was cut last year. Sunshine Coast Mum Tania Griffin discusses the hardships and costs associated with IVF and the stress mothers now face without additional funding.
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Sunshine Coast - Queensland - Australia

Nov. 15, 2011 - PRLog -- A recent analysis of Medicare data has revealed thousands of potential parents missed the chance to conceive through IVF last year, after funding cuts capped the reimbursement available.

The study, conducted by the University of New South Wales found a 13 per cent drop in the number of IVF cycles undertaken in the first year since the new Medicare funding was introduced in 2010.  

Under the new scheme, patients are required to pay up-front for the full cost of each cycle and it’s predicted around an additional 1,500 babies would have been born last year without these cuts.

Local Mum Tania Griffin was lucky enough to complete two full IVF cycles prior to the change in funding and successfully gave birth in 2010 to her only child, a baby boy, Elfin.  

She is now eager to give 19 month old Elfin a brother or sister and says without completing the IVF cycles before the funding cuts, this would be a distant dream.

‘‘When I underwent treatment in 2008 the funding made it more realistic for my husband and I to start a family, if I’d left it until this year there is no way we could contemplate doing an IVF cycle as we just couldn’t afford it’’, she says.

Ms Griffin has recently undergone an embryo transfer and is awaiting the outcome, but says the funding cuts add unnecessary strain to the process, as she only has two frozen eggs left.

‘‘I get emotional thinking about the fact that this could be Elfin’s last chance for siblings and it adds an element of stress,’’ Ms Griffin says.

‘‘Without funding, we would have to go into debt and I’d need to get a second job, which would interfere with my quality time with my son.

‘’We feel lucky we have eggs frozen already which we can use and I’m hopeful of a successful pregnancy this time round,’’ she adds.

Local fertility clinic IVF Sunshine Coast facilitated Ms Griffin’s treatment, and experienced a decline in IVF cycles in 2010, similar to the national decline of around 13 per cent.

Scientific Director Ashley Stevenson says financial impact on some families is just too much to bear and the out of pocket cost for parents have almost doubled in the past year due entirely to the funding cuts.

‘‘IVF Sunshine Coast has not increased costs for treatment during the past year, in fact we’ve tried to absorb the additional costs to make the process more achievable,’’ Mr Stevenson says.

‘‘Unfortunately patients are experiencing the effects of the funding cuts and without the assistance it makes the process impossible for some, meaning many Coast families are missing out,’’ he says.

Ms Griffin says the costs of conceiving a child through IVF are expensive enough without cutting reimbursements.

She was so passionate about her IVF process she kept a blog with her husband Jeffery Griffin to keep guests up to date on the ‘Team Griffin fund’ and share the process with others.

‘‘I think people will weigh up treatment if costs continue to rise and look at other options rather than just IVF, but I’d love to see new funding as there’s nothing more precious than starting a family,’’ she says.

Source:Courtney Aspland
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Industry:Health, Family, Medical
Location:Sunshine Coast - Queensland - Australia
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