Some insurance companies may cover in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) under health insurance plans, it has been reported.
The news comes as a boon for couples struggling with infertility, a condition affecting an increasing number of Indians. According to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, between ten and fourteen percent of Indians struggle with their fertility. In 2015, 27.5 million couples in India seeking children experienced difficulty conceiving.
IVF is one recourse for couples struggling with fertility issues. Considered “the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology” by the Mayo Clinic, IVF involves mature eggs being removed from the ovaries, fertilised outside of the body, and then placed in the uterus. While the procedure can offer hope for couples who want children but may be unable to naturally, it is expensive in India: one cycle can cost between Rs 1.25 lakh and Rs 2.5 lakh.
Adding to the financial woes is the rarity of it being covered by insurance companies. “IVF is a planned event and there is reluctance to cover it,” says Sanjay Dutta of ICICI Lombard, one of India’s leading private insurance companies. However, this could change with some insurance companies expressing willingness to cover IVF.
One such company is Royal Sundaram General Insurance, whose chief product officer Nikhil Apte told The Economic Times that they are looking to take “the first step towards covering fertility treatment.” Elaborating, Apte said “we are looking to include IVF treatment in the health plans and to avoid frauds we will go for people who have been with us for six years, include sub limit and link it to maternity cover.”
With rising rates of infertility, it is understandable that demand for fertility treatments is rising – and experts have called for treatments like IVF to be covered under insurance. “The cost of IVF procedure in India…is expensive for many of the couples,” said gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Archana Dhwana Bajaj of the Nurture IVF Centre. “Therefore, they either avoid treatment or take debt for the desire of a baby. We need to reduce both financial and physical risks. Experts can take care of physical and medical risks. However insurers can help in a big way to minimise financial risks.” It is welcome news, therefore, that some companies seem to have commenced taking these steps.