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€2 million in funding for IVF and fertility treatment set to be announced by government

One course of IVF treatment can cost between €4,000 and €4,500.

Image: Shutterstock/posteriori

UP TO €2 million in funding for IVF and fertility treatment is set to be announced by government tomorrow. 

Health Minister Simon Harris will bring a memo to Cabinet to ask the government to publicly commit to funding a model of care for infertility as part of the public health system.

While it was previously reported the fund would amount to €1 million, the fund has been doubled. 

The minister will confirm €2 million will be spent on supporting access to consultation and diagnostics for both men and women experiencing fertility difficulties.

This is being described in government circles as the “first step in the roll-out of the model of care for infertility”.

Around one in six couples in Ireland may experience infertility.

However, the HSE states that 85% of couples will conceive a child naturally after one year of trying.

This figure rises to 95% after two years.

Those that do need IVF can expect to pay between €4,000 and €4,500 for one course of IVF treatment. The costs can escalate above this amount depending on what treatment is necessary and how many rounds of IVF a couple goes through.

State-funded IVF

Ireland and Lithuania remain the only two EU countries not to offer state funding for assisted reproduction even though the World Health Organisation recognises infertility as a medical condition. 

Harris will tomorrow update the government on the drafting a comprehensive legislative framework for assisted human reproduction (AHR).

At the moment, advanced AHR treatment, such as IVF, is not available within the public health care system, but is accessed through the private sector.

The general scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill was approved by Cabinet two years ago.

Pre-legislative scrutiny of the scheme which covers areas such a range of practices, including sperm, egg and embryo donation, surrogacy, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of embryos, posthumous assisted reproduction as well as embryo and stem cell research, has taken place this year. 

However a timeline for the passage of the Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas is not certain.

It is not expected that eligibility grounds for the IVF funding will be agreed tomorrow.

Harris will tell Cabinet the initial focus of implementing the model of care will be placed on building up services at secondary care and hospital level, where it is estimated that 50% to 70% of patients presenting with infertility issues can be diagnosed and managed, without the need to undergo invasive IVF treatment.

Currently fertility medications are covered by the Drug Payment Scheme or on medical cards. Tax relief for those paying for private IVF treatment is also available.

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