Big money for American IVF


An article in Newsweek July 21 explored the high cost of IVF in the United States and what, if anything, can or should be done about it. It’s extraordinarily more expensive in the US than anywhere else in the world. The average cycle here costs about $14,000. Next closest is Canada at $9000. In Japan it’s $4000 and in Belgium it’s $3000. Additionally, according to some studies, our clinics are only meeting about 25% of the demand for infertility services.

Why so much and why so few places? Supply and demand obviously explains a lot of it. So it seems that if a bunch of clinics were to open up, each one competing for business, the prices would be driven down, much like happened with Lasik or dental implants. However, there may be a lack of doctors available to consult and provide services. According to the article there are only 40 openings each year for fellowships approved by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology where reproductive endocrinologists can be trained.

David Adamson, past president of the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology disagrees. “There is not a long wait to see reproductive endocrinologists. . . at this time, the supply is greater than the demand.”

Another reason explored could be the fact that other countries tend to treat infertility as a disease. That’s not the case here. Is it a medical disease or a socially constructed need? Insurance coverage for procedures is rare in the US and common in Europe. Another interesting dilemma is the ticking clock. “It’s hard to call infertility a disease. It’s normal aging,” said Dr. Sherman Silber a reproductive specialist at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis. That may be true for 80% of infertility cases, but the other 20% can get a medical diagnosis such as PCOS or endometriosis.

So in the face of such controversy an opportunity arises. More clinics like Fertility Partnership in St. Louis are opening. Run by Dr. Elan Simckes, his philosophy is to offer all the service at half the cost. “A woman’s right to have a chance to try to have a child should be available to all,” he says. It’s very likely that many of these types of clinics will open if they can be sustained and affordable IVF could be just around the corner.

Source: Newsweek


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