A close look at campaign pledge to fund fertility treatments

The Liberals and NDP are both talking about expanding funding for in vitro fertilization (and the Progressive Conservatives aren’t saying no).

But there are a wealth of health and cost considerations to the promise. Globe health reporter Kelly Grant breaks it down in an article for subscribers:

Quebec’s experience is instructive here.

Its generous program, launched in 2010, covers three cycles, including frozen embryo transfers. (What does that mean? If a couple manages to produce more than one viable embryo in a cycle, one fresh embryo can be implanted and the rest frozen. If the fresh embryo doesn’t lead to a baby, a frozen embryo or two can be thawed and implanted, leading to a second shot at pregnancy, all in one “cycle.”) If a woman successfully gives birth after IVF, the clock resets and she gets another three chances.

All of this makes it easier for doctors in Quebec to convince would-be parents to agree to implant a single embryo. They know they’ll get another shot. Building a family won’t bankrupt them.

According to a study published last month in the journal Human Reproduction, Quebec’s policy led to a dramatic decline in the multiple pregnancy rate, from 29.4 per cent in 2009, the year before full coverage of IVF was introduced, to 6.4 per cent in 2011.

That decreased the cost per live birth (including health costs in the first year of a baby’s life) to $43,362, down from $49,517.

But at the same time, people flooded the program.

Read more.