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Japan pays 70% of IVF costs to encourage births

Starting April 1, Japan’s public health insurance system will cover 70% of the cost of infertility treatments.

Previously, the entire cost of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle was more than 500,000 yen (nearly 100 million VND), higher than the average monthly income of a household. Japan.

Dr Atsushi Tanaka, director of the Saint Mother clinic in Kita Kyushu, southern Japan, hopes his clinic will have more patients. “I think there’s going to be a patient boom,” he said, estimating the number of IVF cases nationwide could double.

However, Tanaka and other experts say the new policy will not be enough to reverse Japan’s population decline. Because patients still face other significant costs, such as genetic screening and the use of donor eggs/sperm.

“As the number of women of childbearing age declines in the coming years, the government needs to do more,” Tanaka said.

Japan is a pioneer in providing insurance coverage for assisted reproduction measures in response to population problems.  Photo: Bloomberg

Japan is a pioneer in providing insurance coverage for assisted reproduction measures in response to population problems. Photo: Bloomberg

Currently, Japan is the first country in the world to pay for most of the costs of assisted reproduction. The country already has one of the largest numbers of women using IVF in the world, with 7% of babies born in vitro compared with 2% in the US in 2019. However, birth rate Japan’s rate still hovers around 1.3 – much lower than the 2.1 ratio that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) considers necessary to maintain the level. population stability.

Over the past decade, Japan has provided financial subsidies for kindergartens and monthly allowances for families with children. Japan’s childcare leave policy is considered to be the most generous in the world, giving fathers four weeks of leave, although very few take advantage of it. The government also offers some financial support for low-income couples undergoing fertility treatment, but the latest change is aimed at providing broader access to the wider population wanting IVF. .

“It’s good because this policy will provide an opportunity for people in their 30s who need IVF treatment but don’t have the money,” said Yuko Imamura, a staff member at the Tokyo-based Institute of Global Health and Policy. know. Yuki Yano and her husband have been trying to conceive for several years, but haven’t done IVF because it’s too expensive. Even with insurance, they still cost 150,000 yen per treatment cycle. “Because to have children, we hardly have enough to live,” said the 31-year-old woman.

Currently, she is taking a drug that helps stimulate ovulation. Since an ectopic pregnancy that forced her to have a fallopian tube removed, she has always felt stressed on the journey to having a baby, especially as a long-distance truck driver, often away from home during easy times. conception.

To pay for the new insurance, the government set aside 17.4 billion yen in the budget. But many women say it’s not just the cost that matters. A recent study by Sumitomo Life Insurance Company found that the majority of women in this country think it is impossible to have fertility treatment and work at the same time.

Megumi Takai, 33, plans to soon leave her full-time office job for a part-time job to focus more on fertility treatment. Many women like her didn’t have time to go to the doctor while still working. “I wish society was more supportive of this,” she said.

Bao Nhien (According to Bloomberg)

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