The Kevin Rudd government in Australia is being urged not to effect any cuts in IVF rebates. For doing so would make the services available only to the rich, it is argued. Currently the government provide an 80% rebate on expensive IVF services.
To rein in the ballooning costs, obstetricians and gynaecologists have proposed the Government cut the patient refund from 80 to 66 per cent for pregnant women and those using IVF - pruning the rebates from about $4000 to $3300.
Women using IVF could have their $9000 rebates slashed by as much as $2000.
One in every six Australians will have fertility problems, says Access Australia, and many will be blocked from IVF if its cost rises significantly.
The non-profit group represents couples undergoing IVF, and chief executive Sandra Dill says there is growing concern over the proposed cuts.
"Taking the Medicare safety net away would mean taking away many Australians' last chance to have a family," Ms Dill said.
"Such a change would again mean infertility treatment would only be affordable by the rich in our society."
Ms Dill said the changes could add another $2,000-5,000 to the cost of IVF "per cycle", adding many couples were not successful on the first attempt.
"People will be faced with some really difficult options, unless they are rich," she said.
Almost 11,000 babies are born in Australia each year using assisted reproduction technologies.
Some believe that the cutbacks should instead target spiralling obstetrician fees by introducing a soft cap on rebates. At the moment obstetricians can charge crazy amounts for their services knowing that 80% will be covered by the government, it is noted.