Thursday 14 December 2017

Couples undergoing fertility treatment face having to pay 'significant' expenses

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A promised scheme of financial support for couples undergoing fertility treatment is likely to leave them still having to pay significant expenses.

A report examining other countries with these schemes, commissioned by the Department of Health, found the majority offer partial rather than full public funding.

Ireland currently has no State-funded financial support for couples having treatment, although they can get a 20pc tax credit on out-of-pocket expenses, and medicines prescribed by a consultant are covered by the medical card and Drug Payments scheme capped at €144 a month.

Around one-in-six couples in Ireland is affected by infertility.

When Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was health minister in the last government he promised to look at setting up a more formal system to relieve some of the cost of treatments which can range from €4,100 to more than €6,000, but its progress has been slow.

As a first step, the report on how other countries respond in this area found of the 19 countries offering partial funding, some had a cut-off age of 40 years for the mother.

Partial funding was for less than 81pc of the cost for at least one cycle of treatment. In Denmark this means people pay €1,840 and in Finland the levy is 25pc of the cost. In other cases it is 50pc.

Outside Europe, Japan has a means-test scheme while the USA provides no public funding. The report, carried out by the Health Research Board, also found many countries set an age limit of 40 for the woman, and in Germany the prospective father must be under 50.

In Sweden, the parent should not be "too old or sick and of reasonably good psycho social status" to assure the offspring will have "a reasonably smooth childhood".

Health Minister Simon Harris said: "The review does not indicate a recommendation or preference for a specific funding model."

He said it was being analysed by officials in his department looking at policy options in this area.

Irish Independent

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