Health insurers to discuss covering IVF treatments

Support group says people with medical cards should also be covered for IVF

One cycle of IVF can cost about €5,000. While a tax rebate can be claimed on some of the outlay, the financial burden on those seeking treatments is still significant. Photograph: Alan Betson

Private health insurers are to meet a national infertility support group in coming weeks to discuss the possibility of offering cover to policyholders seeking costly IVF treatments.

The planned meeting was confirmed by Helen Browne, co-founder of the National Infertility Support and Information Group, at the group's national conference in Limerick at the weekend.

She believes health insurers should cover fertility treatments. One cycle of IVF (in vitro fertilisation) can cost about €5,000.

While a tax rebate can be claimed on some of the outlay, the financial burden on those seeking treatments is still significant.


While at least one health insurer provides limited cover, not all insurers do.

“Should private health insurers cover it? Of course they should. They’ve been in touch with us, so were hoping to meet with them and to see [what can be done],” Ms Browne said.

“It’s just an initial meeting, they just want to know what we are about, what we are doing, our membership, and just to get a feel to see what we are about. I would be too afraid to prejudge it. We are looking forward to it.”

She said people with medical cards should also be covered.

“There’s an awful lot of people – who are in the middle – who don’t have private health insurance and who aren’t entitled to medical cards.

“They are the people I would have a lot of concerns about, because a lot of people have cancelled their private health insurance because of the present climate,” she said.

Ms Browne also repeated previous calls on the Government to urgently regulate fertility clinics.

“Successive health ministers haven’t touched it. Every minister, when they’ve been approached, have said, ‘Yes, we will be looking into it’.

“I feel saddened that they are not looking at a certain population of citizens who need fertility treatment,” she said.

“The Government aren’t looking into the care and needs of these people. That’s what saddens me, that people are just left to their own devices.”

The Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction, of which Ms Browne was a member, published a report eight years ago recommending new laws to regulate the industry in Ireland.

However, none of the 40 key recommendations has been implemented.

“Micheál Martin, who was then minister for health, said that funding for treatment wasn’t to be included, which was unfortunate,” Ms Browne said.

She also claimed that current Minister for Health Dr James Reilly had done "absolutely nothing" to regulate the industry.

Ms Browne also highlighted a meeting with former minister for health Mary Harney.

“I remember, after the commission’s recommendations [were published], we were invited by Mary Harney to dinner at Farmleigh House, because of the hard work we had done. She promised it [the report] wouldn’t collect dust. That was in 2005.”

A spokesperson for Dr Reilly said: “The Minister for Health is currently considering proposals related to the regulation of assisted human reproduction.”