Montreal

Major drop in IVF applications after free program scrapped in Quebec

The Quebec government reimburses people for up to nine cycles of artificial insemination — but in vitro fertilization hasn’t been reimbursed since Bill 20 was adopted at the National Assembly in 2015.

In vitro fertilization hasn't been reimbursed by Quebec since Bill 20 was adopted in 2015

In vitro fertilization involves extracting the patient's egg cells to be fertilized in a lab. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus. (Sang Tan/Associated Press)

Since Quebec ended its free in vitro fertilization program in 2015, the number of applications has decreased by about 60 per cent, according to reproductive health specialists.

According to doctors interviewed by Radio-Canada, scrapping the program has forced many couples to abandon the idea of ​​having a biological child.

"In some cases, in vitro fertilization is the only way someone can bear a child," said Dr. Karen Buzaglo from the Procrea Fertility Clinic. "When someone can't afford it, it's sad."

There are two main methods of assisted procreation: in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination.

Artificial insemination involves depositing sperm into the uterus. In vitro fertilization involves extracting the patient's egg cells to be fertilized in a lab. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus.

Even though in vitro fertilization is more complex, it's sometimes unavoidable when a couple has a fertility disorder or when they have tried artificial insemination unsuccessfully.

The two techniques also have a stark difference in cost: artificial insemination costs hundreds of dollars, while in vitro fertilization costs thousands.

The Quebec government reimburses people for up to nine cycles of artificial insemination — but in vitro fertilization hasn't been reimbursed since Bill 20 was adopted at the National Assembly in 2015.

Jump in artificial insemination numbers

There is a tax credit available for families who choose artificial insemination, but conditions apply.

For families with incomes of less than $50,000 per year, 80 per cent of the cost is covered by the tax credit. For families earning more than $120,000 per year, 20 per cent is covered.

The number of artificial inseminations reimbursed by the government has slightly increased since the the free in vitro fertilization program ended.

It went from 14,826 in 2014 to 17,976 in 2017, according to data from Quebec's health insurance board (RAMQ).

Translated from Radio-Canada