The process of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) has recently received a lot of attention in the media. The province of Ontario has agreed to cover the costs of the IVF procedure, which normally costs tens of thousands of dollars.
For those unfamiliar with IVF, it can be summed up clearly in one sentence: IVF is the process by which an egg and a sperm are fertilized in a laboratory and then implanted into a human womb to develop.
Although Ontario is making an attempt to make an expensive procedure more available to the masses, it is my belief that the decision is not ideal.
The Ontario Public Health Unit has agreed to put $50 million of tax payer money into the IVF program. This sum of money could be put into other programs that are applicable to a larger portion of the population. In one year, only 4,000 Ontarian women will be eligible for this service. In 2015, Ontario accounted for 4,730,300 women between the ages of 15 and 64. The program is only available for women who are 43 years of age or younger. This means that many women that have potential problems conceiving will not receive financial aid from the program.
Vague guidelines leave treatment in the hands of doctors who determine, on a case-by-case basis, for which patients they will recommend treatment. At the moment, the question of which women will be recommended to receive treatment rests entirely in the hands of doctors. Some women may be prevented from gaining financial aid from the government because their doctors do not recommend IVF treatment.
As mentioned earlier, an age restriction has been imposed on the IVF program. Some researchers have pointed out that this age limit should be set lower to reduce the chance of side effects of IVF and improve the success of IVF births.
This would also prevent the disappointment and emotional side effects that may occur.
Ontario is only covering part of the treatment cost. The expensive drugs that are required by the program still need to be paid for by the patient. If the patient lacks these funds this may render them ineligible for the program, therefore it is still not accessible to every woman that might need it.
Mishka Danchuk-Lauzon is a first-year student studying Life Sciences.
IVF is often used to treat infertility — a condition estimated to affect one in six couples in Ontario. The procedure helps patients towards a successful pregnancy where they would otherwise not be able to conceivet is estimated that one round of IVF can cost up to $10,000, which can take an immense toll on individuals and families’ finances.
With this hefty sum, having a child is out of reach for many; however, starting this December, Ontario will fund one round of in-vitro fertilization for women up to 43 years of age. This is to counteract the effects of infertility caused for whatever reason, regardless of family status or sexual orientation. This move by Ontario, if implemented and regulated effectively, will be a step forward for our health care system.
Many of those against the government’s announcement to fund IVF raise the issue of wasting tax dollars. These individuals argue that Ontario’s tax dollars can be better spent on other health issues; however, government regulated funding for IVF could actually save hundreds of millions of dollars in the long run. What is more, many women undergoing IVF — for fear an unsuccessful procedure and its costs —— receive multiple embryos in one single IVF. This can lead to an increase of multiple births which can not only be more costly but also dangerous for these women. These babies are more likely to be born pre-term, and require C-sections and additional expenses in care after birth. In funding IVF, the hope is that the procedure will be regulated, and funding will only be granted to implant one embryo at a time. This would help to prevent multiple births and make the overall process safer for patients. Certainly, those conditions that affect a greater number of people should receive more funding for mass effect; however, issues that affect a smaller number of the population should not be ignored. Furthermore, Ontario’s population is aging as a whole, with birthrates declining. This program will not only benefit individuals looking to start families, but can also help the entirety of Ontario’s population to grow and increase fertility rates for coming years.
Infertility is a health issue, and it is about time that was treated like one by our government. If regulated, this program will save money for our healthcare system in the long term, which can be used to fund future health services. Although there is much to fight for in the future for health care coverage of other medical conditions, the funding of IVF is a step forward for healthcare in Ontario.
Sandy Wang is a fourth-year studying Neuroscience and Psychology.