Cheaper IVF test


North Coast Weekender - - Front Page - Mark Don­ald­son

PERTH’S first bulk-billing IVF clinic is set to open in Craigie, of­fer­ing op­tions for cou­ples un­able to af­ford es­tab­lished ser­vices.

And while it is seem­ingly good news for moth­ers-in-wait­ing, the pres­i­dent of Aus­tralia’s peak fer­til­ity body has ad­vised po­ten­tial pa­tients to be wary of its lim­i­ta­tions.

Pri­mary Health, which op­er­ates bulk-billed IVF clin­ics in Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and Bris­bane, has con­firmed Craigie Med­i­cal and Den­tal Cen­tre as the site for its fourth clinic.It is ex­pected to open in the next six months, pend­ing li­cence ap­provals.

The ser­vice will have the ma­jor­ity of costs cov­ered by Medi­care, leav­ing most pa­tients just $800 to $1000 out of pocket for a sin­gle round of treat­ment.

In com­par­i­son, Perth’s most ex­pen­sive IVF clin­ics can charge more than $10,000, while the cheaper ones cost about $4500 in ex­cess of what Medi­care cov­ers.

Pri­mary Health med­i­cal di­rec­tor Janelle McDon­ald said the com­pany had seen sig­nif­i­cant de­mand from in­ter­state pa­tients, which prompted the move to Perth.

“For some peo­ple, treat­ment is sim­ply un­af­ford­able and pre­vents them from seek­ing fur­ther help,” she said.

“Our model re­moves fi­nan­cial bar­ri­ers; we be­lieve ac­cess to high qual­ity IVF should be an op­tion for more peo­ple, re­gard­less of their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.”

Fer­til­ity So­ci­ety of Aus­tralia pres­i­dent Michael Chap­man said Pri­mary Health com­plied with the nec­es­sary stan­dards but claimed they did not of­fer the same level of sup­port as more costly clin­ics.

“Bulk-billing has opened ac­cess to many who pre­vi­ously could not af­ford it, but like Jet­star or Tiger, cheap means no frills,” Pro­fes­sor Chap­man said.

“Gen­er­ally, the clin­ics have been run by GPs who screen the pa­tients; they are not spe­cial­ists. The spe­cial­ists are mostly gy­nae­col­o­gists with­out for­mal train­ing in in­fer­til­ity.

“A num­ber of them are spe­cial­ists im­ported into Aus­tralia.

“There has been a re­luc­tance of Aus­tralian-trained spe­cial­ists to par­tic­i­pate in this model of care.”

Dr McDon­ald de­nied this was the case, say­ing the level of sup­port was “no dif­fer­ent” to other clin­ics.

She said both doc­tors the com­pany had re­cruited for the Craigie cen­tre were WA lo­cals and ex­pe­ri­enced IVF providers.

“We don’t vary the level of medicine or the science in our holis­tic team ap­proach,” she said. “We only change the de­liv­ery sys­tem, which al­lows us to pro­vide pa­tients with bulk-billed ser­vices.

“Gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers per­form ini­tial pa­tient con­sults and, once this is com­plete, the pa­tient is re­ferred to one of our fer­til­ity spe­cial­ists.

“A fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist al­ways con­trols each pa­tient’s IVF cy­cle and the ma­jor­ity of our spe­cial­ists have sub-spe­cialty train­ing in fer­til­ity.”

Pri­mary Health does not of­fer donor ser­vices.

Statis­tics on the com­pany’s web­site for 2014-15 say their suc­cess rate for live births from a fresh em­bryo ranged from 48.6 per cent for pa­tients un­der 30 to no births for pa­tients aged over 45.

The com­pany re­cently cel­e­brated its 800th birth since open­ing the first cen­tre in Syd­ney in 2014.

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