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Press Release

Public funding for IVF will save Alberta health care system millions

Canada NewsWire

Research estimates a 60% reduction in rate of multiple births through IVF and $78 million in net savings to the health care system in first 5 years

CALGARY, May 22, 2012 /CNW/ - The Generations of Hope (GOH) Fertility Assistance Fund marks Canada's Infertility Awareness week today with the release of a new study that reveals how public funding for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in Alberta would improve health outcomes and save the health care system millions.

"The purpose of the study was to determine to what extent the cost of public funding of IVF could be offset by a savings in medical and social costs as a result of a reduced rate of multiple births in Alberta," said Tim Halpen, President of GOH. "A lack of funding at present is the single biggest barrier in helping Albertans struggling with infertility safely build a family."

Today, one in six Alberta couples struggle with infertility, and IVF is often their best or only treatment option. However, since IVF costs an average of $7,500 per treatment cycle plus up to $6,000 in medication costs, many couples choose to implant more than one embryo to increase their chance of pregnancy. As a result, Albertans using IVF are more likely to have a multiple birth. Unfortunately, multiples are 17 times more likely to require expensive care before and after birth and perhaps even throughout their lives.

The study, which was conducted on behalf of GOH by independent health economist Lindy Forte of Valore Consulting, examined what the impact would be of funding IVF through a policy that guarantees treatment and encourages single embryo transfer, as is the case in Québec and several Scandinavian countries.

Among the key findings, the study concluded that over the first five years adopting a similar form of funding in Alberta would result in:

  • An overall 60% reduction in the rate of multiple births through IVF
  • 44% fewer twins and 90% fewer triplets
  • 585 fewer premature babies born
  • A reduction in prenatal, delivery and neonatal costs of about $29 million
  • A reduction in long term disability costs of approximately $156 million
  • A net savings to the healthcare system of $78 million

"This study demonstrates that a program to publicly fund IVF would not only pay for itself - it would also deliver a net savings to the healthcare system," said Dr. Cal Greene, Regional Fertility Program medical director. "At the same time, it would improve access to treatments for patients hoping to build a family and improve health outcomes for children. It's a win-win for future generations of Albertans."

The study coincides with a province-wide campaign launched by GOH to increase awareness around the issues of infertility and the importance Albertans place on public funding of fertility treatments. A recent Leger Marketing survey - commissioned by GOH - revealed that 67 per cent of Albertans support publicly funding in-vitro fertilization (IVF) as a way to encourage fewer multiple births and save healthcare dollars.

"Albertans take great pride in living in a province that puts family first," stressed Tim Halpen. "We are not surprised by Albertans sentiments. Public funding of IVF is a great step toward preserving that family value. What's more, Albertans understand that it makes good economic sense."

One Albertan who intimately understands the struggles and frustrations that infertility can cause is Christine Nordhagen, former Canadian Olympic wrestler and six time world champion. Upon being diagnosed with infertility, Christine sought IVF treatment at the Regional Fertility Program. Christine and her husband did what most infertile couples do and chose to transfer more than one embryo in the hopes of maximizing their chances of success. In her second IVF pregnancy she conceived twins, both of whom were born pre-term, requiring weeks of special care in the neonatal intensive care unit.

"Albertans pride themselves on living in the best province in Canada in which to raise a family," expressed Christine Nordhagen.  "It is important that Alberta also be the best place to build a family. Infertility is a medical condition, and like other medical conditions, should be publically funded like any other medical disorder."

In addition to the study, GOH has organized a petition urging the government to fund IVF and other fertility treatments. The purpose of the petition is to inform the Alberta government of the importance that Albertans place on family and to demonstrate that Albertans support public funding. The petition is available to sign online at www.generationsofhope.ca as well as at the office of the Regional Fertility Program.  To date 11,500 Albertans have signed the petition.

"We want to remind our government of the importance of family, and to demonstrate that Albertans support public funding for fertility treatments," reiterated Dr. Cal Greene.

About Generations of Hope
GOH is a non-profit organization devoted to raising awareness of infertility and helping couples struggling with infertility attain their dream of a family.  Through the Generations of Hope Fertility Assistance Fund, families for whom IVF treatment is a challenging financial option can receive assistance for treatment at the Regional Fertility Program.  Since 1985, there have been nearly 10,000 IVF births through the IVF program in Calgary.

For more information, please visit www.generationsofhope.ca, or follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/generationsofhope and Twitter @gensofhope

About Leger Marketing
Leger Marketing is the leading Canadian owned market research and polling firm with more than 600 professionals working from its Canadian and American offices.  The survey was conducted using the results of 1040 online interviews of adult Albertans from January 16-18, 2012 using Leger Marketing's Online Panel - LegerWeb.

About Valore Consulting

Lindy Forte is the Founder and Managing Director of Valore Consulting, an independent boutique research firm headquartered in Toronto specializing in health economics and reimbursement. Forte's research has been published in peer-reviewed journals on topics related to the health and economic benefits of medications and/or drug reimbursement policy in Canada.   Forte's recent work has focused on the cost-benefit of reimbursing fertility services in Canada and has been instrumental in gaining provincial government funding in Quebec.

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