At present, 27.5 million couples in India suffer from infertility—in percentage terms, this is about 10-15% of couples who are actively seeking a child.
With private insurance providers now looking to include in vitro fertility (IVF) treatments within their health insurance plans, millions in the country looking at IVF as an option for parenthood are likely to receive the news well. In the pilot stage, companies will offer IVF cover, linked to maternity cover, as part of high-sum-insured premium policies to pre-existing clients; it will be part of health plans that support outpatient care, emergency services, and maternity and neonatal care. To avoid frauds, the plan will include a sub-limit, and specify the number of embryo-transfer attempts, with the possibility of covering additional cycles, in the event that the first is unsuccessful.
At present, 27.5 million couples in India suffer from infertility—in percentage terms, this is about 10-15% of couples who are actively seeking a child. By 2020, this number is expected to rise a further 10%. Yet, owing to the high costs of IVF—a single IVF cycle in India can cost anywhere between Rs 1.25 lakh and Rs 2.5 lakh—not many are able to afford it. Often, this can lead to a couples seeking alternate fertility treatments from quacks, the efficacy of which is questionable, at best, and which can have tremendous health costs for women. The traditional reluctance to cover IVF under health insurance plans comes, apart from the high cost to the provider, from the fact that IVF is a planned event. However, the World Health Organisation defines infertility as a disease of the reproductive system, and is, therefore, a significant aspect of maternal health, which is covered under health plans. Globally, too, IVF is increasingly being covered under health insurance plans. The public insurance companies must take a cue from their private counterparts to make IVF insurance competitive.