British Columbia

Infertility treatments cost couples thousands of dollars; should the province help?

Advocates hope that national Infertility Awareness Week will help convince the province to provide funding to couples who are trying to have a baby.

Costs for infertility treatments can be anywhere from $7,000 to $9,000, plus the cost of medication

Doreen Kumar and Ameet Gulabivala play with their son Grayson, who they had through IVF. (Anita Bathe/CBC)

Advocates hope national Infertility Awareness Week will help convince the province to provide funding for couples who are trying to have a baby but can't naturally.

Many of those couples are dishing out big bucks for fertility treatments due to unforeseen circumstances, including Surrey's Doreen Kumar and Ameet Gulabivali, whose son Grayson is the light of their life. 

Grayson is now a happy 13 month old but having him did not come easy.

"We had to look into fertility treatments or IVF when we found out my husband was sick," Kumar said. "He was diagnosed with Type T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia."

Despite the diagnosis, the Surrey family wasn't able to get any funding to help with the cost of IVF.

"The qualification income is actually based on the previous years' income, and at that time we were both making good money," Gulabivala said. 

"After I got sick, I had to go on long term disability, which is a substantial decrease in income." 

Grayson is a happy, healthy thirteen month old baby. (Anita Bathe/CBC)

Dr. Sonya Kashyap with the Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver says companies in places like San Francisco have been very proactive in recognizing these treatments as normal.

"Many companies are providing fertility benefits as part of an employee benefit package," Kashyap said. "Not only infertility benefits but they're also recognizing that these days so many people wait so much longer to have their family and that egg freezing benefits are available."

Hoping for change

The parents were able to receive some coverage through Kumar's employer for medication, but it wasn't a lot. 

Their hope is things will change for other families in the future.

"I would like to see coverage that covers the whole treatment," Kumar said. "It's great the medications were covered, but what about the treatment? It's a substantial amount as well."

Advocates say one in six Canadian couples struggle with infertility, and of that number, only 15 per cent seek treatment. 

Costs can be anywhere from $7,000 to $9,000 and that doesn't include the thousands in medication costs.