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The costs of IVF and fertility assistance are increasing. For many, this means “reconsider” – National | Globalnews.ca

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Cayley Benjamin and her husband sought fertility treatment after several months of trying to have another child – one of many Canadians who are turning to medical help but are increasingly struggling with the costs.

“We managed to conceive and I had a miscarriage a little over two years ago,” she told Global News from Vancouver.

“After that, I found myself unable to get pregnant.”

Benjamin said she and her husband had to budget for treatment — and rising costs forced them to question their plans.

“Time and time again, we consciously asked ourselves, “Are we sure we want a second child?” “, she said.

Benjamin tried months of fertility drugs, then months of intrauterine insemination (IUI) (placing sperm directly into the uterus). When those failed, she turned to in vitro fertilization, which involved taking medication to increase the number of eggs, having specialists retrieve the eggs, fertilizing them in the lab and storing them for several days before replacing the embryo in its uterus.

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The total cost, she said, was about $30,000.

Benjamin said the process was grueling and, although she won’t receive any funding, Benjamin said she cried when she learned the BC government would begin covering IVF, a move announced in the provincial budget last month.

Fertility treatment costs are increasing, according to experts and a Global News analysis. Inflation is putting increased pressure on Canadians hoping to expand their families.


Click to play video: “BC Budget 2024: How new IVF funding will help potential parents”


BC Budget 2024: How new IVF funding will help potential parents


“It’s a fact that fertility costs have increased,” said Dr. Prati Sharma, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist.

Sharma, also a board member of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, said inflation, coupled with the costs of running clinics, paying staff and running state-of-the-art equipment, has driven up the price of treatments.

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Sharma and Carolynn Dubé, executive director of Fertility Matters Canada, a charity, said an IVF cycle costs on average about $20,000.

The two also said that many women need more than one cycle to get pregnant.

The rising costs come as Canadians are experiencing their lowest fertility rate, meaning women are having the fewest children since Statistics Canada began tracking this figure, and one in six Canadians are experiencing fertility, according to the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS).

A recent Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News shows that most Canadians are having fewer children than they would like because raising them is too expensive.

As more Canadians delay childbearing, Dubé said they are also struggling with inflation, which adds increased financial pressure on them and their ability to start a family.

“I’m sure people are reconsidering now and may not even be able to access these options to help them finance their fertility treatments,” she said.

Shania Bhopa wanted to give herself options for the future, so she froze her eggs when she was 25.

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“I see myself taking this two-step approach,” said the Hamilton doctoral student, now 26, “focusing the next decade on my career, and then being able to take time off and really love and enjoy the time spent. mother.”

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Bhopa froze and stored her unfertilized eggs, and estimates the cost at around $10,000 — although she says it would have been more if her parents’ insurance hadn’t covered 80 percent of the $4,000 medication .

But would she do it again now?

“I would have (made different decisions), especially seeing where the economy and inflation are going and, being towards the end of my studies, I would take the next step,” Bhopa said.


Click to play the video: “Global News and Ipsos survey on family expectations”


Global News and Ipsos survey on family expectations


How do IVF costs compare?

How much a Canadian pays for treatment depends on where they live, with a patchwork of different coverage or reimbursement plans spanning the country.

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Ontario and Quebec cover a single IVF cycle, and British Columbia announced it would begin doing the same in April 2025.

Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador all offer tax credits of different amounts and with different conditions.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut offer no help – and the territories don’t have dedicated fertility clinics.

Global News examined the costs of different fertility treatments at clinics across the country and used Internet archives to compare prices.

At its Vancouver location, Olive Fertility Center charged $7,800 for IVF in November 2020, indicating the required medications could cost between $4,000 and $7,000.

As of February 2024, the clinic said IVF costs $10,150 and medications now cost between $5,000 and $9,000.

Prices for services at the Olive Fertility Center in Vancouver.

Source: Olive Fertility Clinic. Accessed February 26, 2024

The price list for fertility treatments at the Olive Fertility Center in Vancouver in February 2020.

Source: The Olive Fertility Clinic, accessible via the Wayback Machine.

As of April 2022, IVF at Heartland Fertility in Winnipeg costs $9,820, cryopreservation costs $1,000, and storing embryos for a year costs $420.

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Two years later, IVF costs $11,367.25, cryopreservation $2,500, and embryo storage $467.25 per year.

The Calgary Regional Fertility Program charged $6,900 for IVF in August 2018. Egg retrieval and freezing costs almost as much. Storing embryos or eggs costs $252 per year.

In 2024, it charges $9,300 for IVF, $8,300 for egg retrieval and freezing, and $720 to store them or embryos for a year.

Olive, Heartland and the Ottawa Fertility Clinic are operated by parent company Fertility Partners.

Fees were and are much lower in Ontario, where the province covers a round of IVF if a patient meets medical criteria.

Yet freezing eggs for non-medical reasons and storing them for a year at the Ottawa Fertility Clinic cost $7,000 as of January 31, 2020, according to its old price list. Now it costs $9,100.

Genetic testing for health conditions or birth defects can cost thousands of dollars extra.

Those who offer IVF say this highly complex medical procedure also comes with high costs for providers.

Dr. Beth Taylor of Vancouver’s Olive Fertility Center said IVF “is a treatment that requires advanced scientific knowledge to help each patient achieve their best chance of having a healthy pregnancy and, in recent years, our practice had to adjust rates to cover increased costs. »

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Heartland’s Dr. Gordon McTavish, also in a statement, highlighted the province’s fertility tax credit (40 per cent up to $8,000 with no limit on the number of treatments a patient can claim).

“Our practice strives to help increase access by investing in expanding our medical team, reducing wait times for treatment and making medical innovations available,” he said. he writes.

Global News contacted the Calgary Regional Fertility Program several times but never received a response.

Dr. Doron Shmorgun of the Ottawa clinic said not all infertility issues require IVF and anyone with concerns should see a specialist to determine whether other options might help.

The classic fertility patient, Sharma said, is someone who has been trying to conceive for a year or six months (depending on their age) but is unable to do so.

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She said she’s seeing more people seeking treatment for other reasons. They may be young single women or couples wanting to freeze eggs or embryos for later use so they can focus on their careers, they may be undergoing medical treatment that prohibits them from conceiving, or they may be LGBTQ2 looking to help her start a family, she said. .

“The younger a woman is when she freezes her eggs or creates embryos, the higher the viability of those eggs,” she told Global News, highlighting the increased risks associated with age.

Sharma, who runs a clinic in Toronto, said her consultations with patients involve discussing costs and whether patients plan to undergo more than one cycle of IVF.

“Even if you earn a good living, spending $20,000 on a cycle with no guarantee is not easy,” she told Global News, urging the government for more coverage for fertility treatments.

Dubé said federal, provincial and territorial governments as well as insurers and employers must work together to provide a sustainable option for starting families in Canada.

Benjamin agreed.

“I have so much love to give as a mother. And I knew I had more,” Benjamin said of his desire for a second child.

His treatment worked. It should arrive in June.



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