Adjournment: My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Health. It is estimated that in Australia infertility affects around 9 per cent of the population at any given time. IVF has become one of the most popular treatment methods for those diagnosed as unable to conceive without medical intervention. Despite increases in federal public funding through changes to Medicare and the safety net, the cost of treatment remains high for many consumers. The average cost per cycle typically sits at around $4000 to $5000, with all costs included after the Medicare rebate. Often women will need to undergo several cycles before having a successful birth through IVF. For many this is unaffordable. This means that some women and couples are missing out on essential health care and the opportunity to conceive a family, one of things that many people hold dear.
There are no public IVF services in Victoria, or indeed in Australia, despite apparent commitments to universal health care for all by governments of all descriptions. Meanwhile the assisted reproductive technology industry in Australia is dominated by a duopoly. Prices for treatment have increased significantly over the past decade, placing a huge burden on both consumers and the budget.
Another failure of the system is the lack of transparency and consistency in reporting stats for IVF clinics. Clinics are not required to report their data to the Australia and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database and can choose at their discretion what to report and when to report it. This leads to inconsistencies in what exactly is measured and reported. Furthermore, the database only publishes general stats on assisted reproductive technology success rates. Unlike government health performance data, it is not detailed by clinic, meaning there is no way for consumers to compare different providers in a meaningful way.
There have been a number of people within the sector who have talked quite openly about the incredibly high costs and the fact that IVF does not need to be as costly as it is now. The action I am seeking from the government is that it considers investing in a public health IVF clinic at a Victorian tertiary hospital in order to give women and couples living on low incomes proper access to this treatment.