Now that’s a baby bonus
Tassie clinic says bulk bill plan makes IVF more affordable
COUPLES going through the traditionally expensive process of IVF have had their bills cut by thousands of dollars in Tasmania following the availability of bulk-billed fertility services.
Tasmanian fertility specialist Bill Watkins said he knew affordability was often an issue for people seeking IVF to become pregnant.
“We understand that the cost of IVF treatment is a reason some couples don’t seek treatment, particularly given that more than one treatment cycle is usually required in order to achieve a pregnancy,” he said.
Dr Watkins said TasIVF had introduced bulk-billed IVF and FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) cycles at both its Hobart and Launceston clinics by streamlining services.
Dr Watkins said the bulkbilled clinics could help couples save up to $3000 per round of IVF, which would normally be the out-of-pocket expense for a range of laboratory services related to embryology.
Dr Watkins said the clinic had just moved to a new purpose-built facility in Melville St, Hobart, making efficiencies possible.
The bulk-bill clinic is attended by fertility clinicians, so patients may not see the same doctor through every stage of treatment.
“We hope that people who previously couldn’t afford IVF, or who had to stop IVF, will now be able to afford it,” Dr Watkins said.
Eligible patients will still have some out-of-pocket expenses, including day surgery fees, pathology tests and medications. Those expenses range from about $600-$900.
Dr Watkins said more com- plicated cases of infertility would not be suited to the bulk-billed treatment model.
The bulk-billing will cover all laboratory costs – including fertilisation, blastocyst culture and embryo transfer. Scanning costs and consultations are also bulk billed.
Infertility consumer advocate Caroline Lorbach, author of Experience of Donor Conception, said only a handful of clinics around Australia bulkbilled IVF.
“It not only reduces the cost for people but makes the costs more transparent as well,” she said.
She said affordability was often a barrier to such services.
“Years ago my husband and I were using donor conception – without IVF – and we had to stop treatment for a while to save up again to afford to continue.”
Ms Lorbach said she would also like to see more independent counselling about fertility treatments so couples did not feel pressured into taking up any services.
Dr Bill Watkins