Australia & IVF

I've been sitting and stewing on an issue for almost a week now. It's a big one, and one that's going to be affecting Australian couples who are infertile and turning towards IVF in the near future.

If you'd like to read about it, please follow this link. In summary: The government is planning to cut funding to fertility treatment, thus increasing the out of pocket costs for IVF treatment, as well as reducing the current public health rebates.

Now, before I begin, let me be the first to say something;


I've said it before, and I'll say it again every day for the rest of my life... but I feel like I need to reiterate this before I begin this tirade, because I'm sure that folks will be quick to remind me of how lucky I am to have her (I KNOW) and that I should consider myself blessed to have one child (I KNOW) or that I'm even able to access IVF at all (I KNOW) ... so there, it is.

So let's get back to the issue at hand. Do I have issues with this policy changing, as of January 1st? Absolutely. This is one which will affect us directly - and as a couple who are already using a more 'budget' clinic, it leaves our options rather limited. We can't move somewhere more affordable, or swap clinics again - there simply isn't anywhere else to go.

As it is, we've spent thousands of dollars on IVF cycles and additional medications that go along with them. The barely covered specialist appointments, the additional bloodwork and genetic testing that isn't covered by any rebates at all, the miscarriage procedures & pathology - add these in to our overall cycle costs for all of our fresh and frozen rounds of IVF, and it adds up. So much so that I don't even want to tally it all, because the figures will be terrifying.. and that's WITH the help of rebates. I have friends using the bigger clinics here, and their out of pocket costs are even more staggering.

People seem to think that with IVF being on the Medicare system, that means that we pay nothing. I don't think they realise that we are out of pocket every single time we attempt a cycle, whether it works or not. For each of my freeze all cycles, cycles we didn't even get to transfer an embryo, we still paid out of pocket... for not even a shot at a pregnancy. Yes, we're lucky enough to get partial subsidies from the public health system, but we are STILL paying... and with no guarantee!

The comments on these articles are heartbreaking.

I'm sure they are spoken flippantly by folks who either haven't dealt with infertilty themselves, or haven't known anyone personally who is going through all of this... but the ignorance astounds me.

Just adopt.
Realise that you weren't meant to have children, accept it and move on.
Stop using tax payers dollars, just pay for it yourself.
You don't deserve special financial help because you're female.
Why should you be entitled to have children that are funded by the rest of us?
Did I mention just adopt?

You can call me oversensitive, and tell me to "just deal" with my issues regarding infertility - and I won't debate you. Just ask the multitude of counsellors we've seen over the years, and are seeing now. Trust me, we're dealing with it. Just getting through each day of feeling the disappointment and overwhelming sadness that is infertility and loss, that's me dealing with it.

Infertility isn't a medical condition, you say? Children are a choice? Go ahead and talk to my very concerned GP and psychologist, who are working with me on strategies to deal with the anxiety and depression that have now taken hold, after spending countless years and dollars trying to conceive. Not having more children is a choice we can't accept just yet - not until we've given it literally everything we've got. Some folks don't even get that chance.

As for people complaining that people take advantage of the system and use IVF too many times - are you serious? Do you think we WANT to be doing this over and over again? Ask any woman, or couple, who are going through this kind of treatment - we all want this part over with. We're talking about invasive medical procedures, coupled with profound emotional disappointment and physical repercussions... we'd LOVE it if it worked the first time. Reality is, it doesn't work that way.

I'd like to invite these folks who show no sympathy for infertile couples to do some research on adoption in Australia.

We have virtually no systems in place for adoption here. Fostering, yes. Short term care, yes. International adoption? Not even a remote possibility, unless you have tens of thousands of dollars and a willingness to wait for years - with no guarantee of a successful adoption. Once again, I put it to you: do you think that the majority of infertile couples wouldn't have considered this, or done the homework? Aside from coming to terms with the emotional loss of a biological child (not something to be taken lightly for a lot of folks), it becomes very quickly obvious that adoption is not an option for most, whether they would be happy going down that path or not. It's just not that simple.

My husband & I have been infertile since our 20's. We have medical conditions that are the cause for our infertility, and we have no genetic reasons so far to explain our miscarriages, despite plenty of testing. We have not "put off" having children because we have other, more important things in life. We have been together since we were 18/19, and are very happily married as we speak - and all we ever wanted was a family to call our own. We are STILL young, fertility wise - 31/33 as of this moment. We work hard, we save hard, we limit our spending and don't do fancy things... because we are sensible, we don't get government hand-outs, and we are putting every cent we have towards expanding our family.

Am I bitter because I can't have children on my own? You're damn right. What I wouldn't give to be able to simply plan for a pregnancy, have a little lovin' and pop out a baby like seemingly everyone else on the planet.

Here's the thing; the public system and safety net funds all sorts of conditions and treatments. Do I complain, because my "tax payer dollars" pay for a lung transplant, or cancer treatment, for someone who CHOSE to smoke and developed a medical condition? Do I complain, because my "tax payer dollars" are helping someone have a knee replacement because they CHOSE to run marathons and have injured themselves? Absolutely not! Because health care is something that should be available for all of us who are living, working & contributing to Australia's future.

And really.. do they think that we're not tax payers ourselves? We have worked and paid our taxes our entire lives, just like everyone else... so when we need to utilise the system for the first time, why should we have that option taken away from us?

This policy change scares me. As if IVF and infertility treatment wasn't hard enough to deal with from an emotional perspective, the thought that we might have to stop because of finances.. well, it's a real kick in the guts. It makes me think of others who aren't so lucky, or who haven't been able to try for their dream of having a family; places where there is no coverage what-so-ever... and it makes me angry. Australia is a place that is special to me, and I've always been grateful for its public system and the way it supports its citizens - but now, it just leaves me filled with dread.

IVF is not a choice we make lightly. It's not a go-to for people who are lazy, or who leave it too late to have children, or for folks who want designer babies. I just wish people would stop being so quick to judge, and to have a little compassion for those of us who are unlucky enough to have this burden on our shoulders.

Without access to IVF, we wouldn't have our daughter. This amazingly stubborn, strong-willed, pocket rocket of a child, who brings us so much joy. I can't fathom life without her, and I can't fathom why folks wouldn't want others to experience the happiness that she has brought us.

And that's all I have to say about that.

2 Comments • Labels: , , , , , ,  


Unknown said...

Well said! Personally, I am happy for my tax payer dollars to go to infertility treatments for those who need them, regardless of why they need them. And people's family choices are their own business- it is maddening to hear people say "why don't you adopt/maybe you weren't meant to have children/at least you have your daughter/son" etc etc. I'm not a very sensitive person and I wasn't as deep in the trenches for as long as most, and yet those phrases get my blood boiling and I want to start handing out slaps.

I am sorry they are cutting funding in Aussie. That really is a shame. From a financial standpoint it does make much more sense to continue or increase funding in reproductive technology. Declining populations and paying for the older generations as they start to retire and all that.

I know this is not what you need at the moment, and I am honestly hoping that things start to turn around for you soon. Hugs. xx

Em said...

I've heard about this too and you've put in to words what I feel about this change perfectly.

Labor has announced they will oppose it and we can only hope that the Greens and the rest of the Senate will too.

I just read about your recent loss and I am so sorry :(. My thoughts are with you at this moment *hugs*

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