Helping patients and doctors to talk to each other !
Saturday, May 19, 2018
How can we make IVF more affordable in India ?
I often see lots of infertile patients who could get pregnant if they did IVF treatment. Unfortunately, they just cannot afford to do an IVF cycle for financial reasons, and they end up without a baby. It fair to say that this causes them a significant amount of frustration and heartburn when you know that IVF can help you get pregnant; but you can’t, because you just can’t afford the treatment.
Can this be changed?
But it’s not just the patients who are affected; IVF specialists also go through a lot of anguish when this happens. It’s very difficult to come to terms with the fact that though there is a medical solution, you are unable to offer it to a patient, simply because she can’t afford it. This isn’t the case only in India, but across the world, there are people who have to forgo IVF because of the cost factor. So what can be done to make the treatment more affordable?
In India, it would make a big difference if the government accepted the fact that family planning and welfare does not just mean limiting family size, but also helping couples to achieve their desired family size. If government hospitals & medical colleges began offering IVF programs, they would easily be able to afford to this in a cost-effective manner.
Our medical colleges are churning out a large number of M.D. gynecologists who haven’t really had any exposure to IVF treatment; it’s a shame that these gynecologists are under qualified. If IVF is offered at these hospitals, both the purposes would be served. Infertile patients would get quality care, and there would be an entire generation of gynecologists who are being trained properly!
Health insurance companies don’t cover IVF treatment. The excuse they give is that infertility isn’t a medical disease and that it’s no more than a lifestyle illness which doesn’t make it eligible to be covered under insurance. Patients don’t have the means to fight back and the companies get away with it.
The simple solution is that infertile patients should form an NGO which would establish that infertility is a medical problem and that it should be covered by insurance just as any other medical treatment would be. This would make the treatment much more affordable for a number of couples.
So, why is IVF so expensive?
One of the main reasons is because doctors inflate their charges by saying that their years of training, the expensive IVF equipment, the disposables etc, make it very expensive. This is true to a certain extend; however, if they use economies of scale, they will be able to provide more affordable IVF treatment to patients.
If they start treating a larger number of patients and use innovative technology (like vitrification for freezing), it will improve their success rates and inexpensive IVF treatment can be much more than a pipe dream.
Not happy with the attention you are getting from your IVF clinic? Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you!