Bulk Billing IVF - Yes Please!

There has been a bit of a media frenzy here in Australia over the last few days, with the announcement of the opening of Sydney's first bulk-billed IVF centre. From the reading I've done, the majority of procedures will be covered by Medicare {the currently-free Australian healthcare system} and there will be some out of pocket costs, for items that aren't listed on their books. The news reports are claiming costs of $500 for a procedure.

Drugs from my IVF cycle #1

This news is really exciting to me, as I'm sure it is to many couples struggling to conceive. The double whammy of needing IVF is not only the emotional aspect of it all - it's the financial side of things. Paying excessive amounts of money to achieve something that your body just isn't able to do on its own; it hurts.

We've been lucky with our experience - we researched a lot of clinics, and ended up using one that is currently one of the most reasonably priced in Sydney. There are some consequences with saving money there; we are part of a clinic, so don't see the same doctor for procedures - it's whoever happens to be working as our dates are scheduled. I also had to have my egg retrieval procedure done under local anaesthetic and twilight sedation, as opposed to being knocked out in a day surgery. {Yargh!} But to us, it was the only way we could jump into IVF after not being able to conceive on our own.

But there are a LOT of people who aren't local to our clinic, and who only have expensive private clinics available to them. This impacts on whether they're able to go down the assisted conception route, or how many cycles they can go through if they are unsuccessful in becoming pregnant. Hearing about this bulk-billed, low cost clinic, sounds like a dream come true to a lot of people.

That said, I've read a lot of negative comments about it too. Not surprisingly, a lot of the criticism is being offered by Australians who have never struggled to fall pregnant, never been told they couldn't have a baby, never needed to even THINK about spending money on this sort of a procedure. They say: Why should tax payers foot the bill for a non life-threatening procedure? It's only babies, after all. Not that important. Maybe they should 'just adopt' or get a pet instead?

My blood boils reading this sort of nonsense. It actually boils. The sense of entitlement some of those comments project ... the 'well, if you can't have kids, it must be for a reason' ideology - it blows my mind. For so many people, infertility is a disease. It may not be life threatening, but we live every day with emotional and with physiological scars from it. Why should couples that are struggling to conceive simply give up their dream of having a family, because other people don't think they're 'in need enough' to qualify? And how can anyone chime in on this discussion who hasn't been through these circumstances themselves? If you've never had to even THINK about potentially needing IVF to conceive, you don't deserve to come in and shoot down the idea of making it affordable for hundreds or thousands of potential parents - parents who wouldn't get a chance any other way.

This whole thing makes me so thankful. Thankful that I live in Australia, where we do have certain parts of things covered by Medicare, even if private health insurance isn't interested in covering infertility treatments. Thankful that we conceived Georgia after two rounds of IVF, not twenty. Thankful that we live locally to an affordable clinic. Thankful for this little jellybean in my tummy, and that we even get to be parents at all.

I just wish that everyone had the same opportunities that we do - and that people who have no stake in such a sensitive topic, could stay the hell away from it.

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JustHeather said...

Australia sounds a lot like Finland. And I am very grateful to be living here. Sure, taxes are higher, but I have been able to do 3 rounds of IVF at a minimal cost.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Too bad (for me) that only Australians are covered, otherwise I'd be taking a long "vacation" in Australia (and it would still be cheaper than IVF here in the USA!). Happy for y'all, though! -Polly

torthĂșil said...

Here from ICLW. I say yay Australia for bulk billing IVF! There is currently a petition in my Canadian province to add fertility treatments to provincial health care, but who knows when or if that will actually come to pass. I think there should be at least some health care coverage. It's hard to imagine how those kind of benefits would be abused - after all who would want to do fertility treatments if they didn't absolutely have to? Also, do the people who say "just adopt" have the slightest clue about the financial cost of adoption? never mind the other costs. So much stupidity in the world. Anyway, enough ranting. Enjoying your blog and wishing you best of luck!

Lisa N said...

Stopping by from ICLW.... Wow, how incredible if the bulk billing thing really works out for Australia. I hope for everyone struggling with infertility there that it does! I can only dream for something similar here in the U.S.

Jess said...

In addition to the points you made, I just wanted to say that while IVF and infertility specifically may not impact a lot of people personally, birth rates as a whole are something that matters to the country and the economy. I don't know what the Australian birth rate is right now, but in many European countries the birth rates are too low and the governments (i.e., the taxpayers) offer subsidies to people for having kids. This approach seems like an extension of that. This attitude of "your problem, why should I pay for it?" really bugs me because I feel like, though in this case it's applied to infertility specifically, people project it on all sorts of things that seem at first glance to be all about individuals' choices and lives but in fact have an impact on society as a whole. A lot of those things are kid-related, things like paid parental leave, universal childcare, and funding for public education. All of this stuff falls into the same bucket, from my perspective. It's not about the individuals who can or can't afford to have or raise children, but about the overall impact of simplifying everyone's path to succeeding at parenting for all people in the society, not just the parents, or would-be parents. It DOES help everyone to make this process simple, and it will benefit the economy, social security, etc. in the future if there are enough young people to sufficiently populate the workforce.

Lara David said...

This is my first time back in a long time (sorry!), but I just wanted to say I'm so happy for you and your hubby and the beautiful family life you're building together. It's been almost 8 years since I first "met" you and I'm just so glad you've come so far. :)

Queenie. . . said...

I totally agree--it makes me so angry to hear the way some people talk about infertility. There are plenty of infections and ailments that people routinely seek treatment for but which wouldn't kill them, and no one begrudges hem the treatment. It's so ridiculous that fertility is seen differently, especially when it impacts so many people. Congrat's and best wishes on the pregnancy!

simply christina said...

I'm glad some parts are covered. I've never tried going through medicare here in the US. Good luck to you!

Carmela said...

That sounds very exciting for Australians! Love the bulk billing IVF. Maybe I should move to Australia :)

Congratulations on your little bean! I look forward to following your journey.

(Thanks for stopping by my blog & Happy ICLW!)

Kemma said...

Is there a cap on the number of times any one couple can undergo bulk billing IVF? As far as I understand the NZ healthcare system will fund a max of two cycles providing couples meet a number of criteria.

So pleased that your pregnancy is progressing smoothly!

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