Government Must Act to Save and Cover Hospital Fertility Services
Friends of Medicare joined patients impacted by the planned closure of uninsured fertility services at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and supporters at the Alberta Legislature today to call on the Ministry of Health to reverse the planned closure and begin covering in-vitro-fertilization (IVF) treatment.
“We heard loud and clear from patients today that keeping services in the public hospital means lower costs and better service,” said Executive Director Sandra Azocar. “At the same time we know the fees for IVF treatment act as a cost barrier for reproductive health. Research has shown the provincial government could save over $100 million a year by covering IVF treatment.”
A 2014 University of Alberta study looked at funding IVF coverage and found that the savings would be realized by reducing multiple births and the costs incurred to the public health system.
“Fertility problems impact one in six couples in Alberta who will have difficulties conceiving a child. The World Health Organization has recognized infertility as a ‘disease of the reproductive system’,” continued Azocar. “These are patients, not consumers. While the government was right to recognize access to the abortion pill mifegymiso as a form of reproductive choice, so should they support publicly insured fertility services.”
“In a short period of time patients and allies gathered over 25,000 signatures online and over 6,000 people signed their paper petition. There is clear demand to keep these services in the public hospital,” added Azocar. “While the hospital clinic operates on a cost-recovery basis, the private clinic has higher fees, increasing barriers to access. Patients are now worried that with the closure of the hospital clinic the private clinic fees will go even higher.”
“We also recognize the value of the research and physician training done at the hospital clinic. There are good reasons to keep it open, and to cover the services, and we hope Minister Hoffman is listening today. The government can do the right thing to slow the expansion of private profit driven medicine, and bring more services under our health insurance plan.”