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Japan: Plans for Age Limits On Fertility Treatment Aid Cause For Concern

Plans for age limits on fertility treatment aid cause for concernWhile it concerns me that Japan is thinking about setting any sort of age limit on fertility treatment (even if it only concerns public aid), it concerns me more that couples have been seeking and receiving aid to create a child. If the couple is in need of financial assistance to create a child, shouldn’t they be concerned about a lack of money when they are raising their child or children? I realize I may not understand the whole picture, but that was my gut reaction concerning this article:

A study group conducted by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is recommending that the government should have an age limit when it comes to giving public aid for fertility treatment. Their study showed that fertility treatment is riskier and less effective for women who are above 40 years old. This is raising some concerns for women who are already receiving said treatment.

The study group headed by Keio University Prof. Yasunori Yoshimura said that if the government is seriously considering putting an age limit on the aid, treatments should be limited to those 39 years old and younger. The data from 2007-2010 shows that the rate of pregnancy for women 32 or younger who underwent fertility treatment is at 20% then the success rate starts dropping sharply, with just 8% among the 40 year olds and 1% for the 44 year olds. The miscarriage rate also increases as the women get older. But according to the data, 36% of the women who availed of the aid were 40 or older, therefore creating a fiscal issue

The financial aid, which started in 2004, is given to infertile couples who want to undergo the fertility treatments. This was because the treatments cost $3,000-$4,000, but it is not covered by public health insurance. The aid subsidizes up to $1,500 per treatment and is given to couples who have an annual income of less than $74,000. Just in 2011, 113,000 treatments were subsidized which was 18,000 more than in 2004.

But now that the government is considering setting an age limit due to budgetary concerns, there are some concerns raised by some parties. Fine, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization supporting people with fertility problems, said that some couples have had to spend more than $10,000 for treatments. Fine Director Akiko Matsumoto shared that some women had to quit working because of the difficulties encountered while receiving treatment and working at the same time, so public aid helps ease the financial burden.

Prof. Osamu Ishihara of Saitama Medical University Hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department said that other countries like South Korea or France have built their fertility aid around a scientific and cost-benefit system. But the Japanese system is sometimes considered a “welfare handout.”


2 comments for “Japan: Plans for Age Limits On Fertility Treatment Aid Cause For Concern”

  • I’m going to play Devile’s Advocate. Do people without a lot or any disposal income make bad parents? I don’t know the cost of IVF in Japan, but I do know that country has been struggling for years with deflation, so there economy is certainly on par, or worse, than what’s been happening for the past few years in the US.

    I have to say as someone who paid for IVF on my own, I would have loved any financial support — from anyone, be it my government or my health insurance. I recieved neither, but if I did, you can be sure that if it was going to be taken away from me, I would not have been happy at all.

    Intertility is draining: emotionally, financially and physically. I’m not surprised that being threateend with the financial support is causing an outrcy. I would cry too.

  • Corinne

    Thank you for the comment, Ms. Caballero. Hearing your perspective is helping me understand the situation in a much different light. I appreciate it.

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