- Posted July 25, 2014 by
Sydney clinic offers bulk-billing for IVF
Australia’s Primary Health Care has opened the first IVF clinic to offer bulk-billing, a move that is part of a national initiative to make IVF services more affordable for families throughout the country.
The clinic was opened today in Sydney. Dr. Edmund Bateman, PHC’s managing director, said that the new clinic would be handling 5,000 IVF procedures a year, and could even double if there is enough of a demand for it.
Last month, Dr. Bateman commented on the high price of fertility services throughout the country and reportedly told investors recently that PHC was considering providing fertility services and medicine.
Private clinics currently provide these services for $4,000 on average; the actual average cost is approximately $8,000, but Australia’s Medicaid program covers half of it.
The new clinic in Sydney will be able to cut out-of-pocket prices from families down to a staggering $500. And since it opened, the clinic has already received 300 requests from families that are yearning to have children of their own. Patients in remote locations or those who can't make it to clinics can also utilize these cost-effective measures via reputable home doctor services such as National Home Doctor Service."
“If the medical procedure has an (Medicare) item number we will bulk-bill it and you pay nothing for it,” Dr. Bateman said in a newspaper interview.
Some people have been warning parents-to-be about this service, however. Dr. David Greening, a fertility specialist in Illawarra, has urged them to be smart and read up on what the Sydney clinic is really offering.
“The clinic will be bulk billing the fresh cycles but it’s not offering to freeze embryos without payment,” Dr. Greening said.
“Freezing is one of the huge advantages of IVF as it means less exposure to drugs as the eggs can just be put back during a natural cycle, plus it limits the number of egg retrievals.”
Greening explained that clinics that offer bulk-billing could be hard-pressed to bring fertility specialists on board. He cites an unclear success rate that could lead to devastated reactions from couples, as well as the fact that taxpayers would be the ones to pay for this bulk-billing system.
“The overall costs on Medicare are huge – if people are doing fresh cycles every time then taxpayers are going to be paying a lot more,” Greening said.
Regardless of the problems this new paradigm faces, it’s certainly a step in a progressive direction; there may be kinks to iron out before the plan is foolproof, but any initiative that hopes to reduce these outrageous costs and help more couples have children is one that should be supported.