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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Huh? New York Times calls Israel 'deeply humane'

I guess this proves the theory that even a broken clock can sometimes be correct. The New York Times has called an Israeli policy 'deeply humane' (Hat Tip: Mrs. Carl).
Unlike countries where couples can go broke trying to conceive with the assistance of costly medical technology, Israel provides free, unlimited IVF procedures for up to two “take-home babies” until a woman is 45. The policy has made Israelis the highest per capita users of the procedure in the world.

“It’s amazing when you think about it,” marveled Keren, 35, who asked to be identified only by her first name. She was seated in a waiting room at Assuta’s in vitro fertilization clinic, a beige canister of her husband’s frozen sperm at her feet. The sperm had been delivered from another hospital where she had her first IVF attempt three years ago, resulting in the birth of her daughter.

“I want at least three kids, and if we had to pay so much money I’m not sure we would be able to do this,” she said.

Although the procedures account for one of the country’s largest public health expenditures, the policy has drawn little debate or criticism, one of the few issues nearly all sectors of the typically fractious Israeli society seem to agree upon.


A survey published by the journal Human Reproduction Update in 2002 showed that 1,657 in vitro fertilization procedures per million people per year were performed in Israel, compared with 899 in Iceland, the country with the second highest rate, and 126 in the United States, which trailed far behind European countries.

Experts say Israel’s rate still far outstrips the rest of the world. Four percent of Israeli children today are the products of in vitro fertilization, compared with about 1 percent estimated in the United States.


While the procedure is entirely state-paid at public hospitals, at private hospitals like Assuta patients using supplementary insurance may be charged a modest co-payment of $150 or so. Patients must also pay for their hormone shots, which are also heavily subsidized by the state.

The Health Ministry says it spends about $3,450 per treatment, although some critics say the real cost may be higher.

In the United States an average treatment or cycle, from egg retrieval to embryo implantation, costs $12,400. Insurance companies that do cover treatment, even partially, usually cap the amount of cycles they pay for.

Dr. Elizur said the success rate tended to drop off after the sixth try but, he added, “It’s very hard to tell a couple that the only reason they cannot have kids is the money.”

Mira Huebner-Harel, the Health Ministry’s legal adviser, said that Israel was the only country to cover not only unlimited IVF treatment until age 45, but to make treatment available for all women regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. She said a state committee was considering whether to open coverage of fertility treatments to gay men using a surrogate.

“We are very sensitive here to the desire of people to have a family,” she said. “I think our country can be proud that a woman who wants to be a mother can try do so.”

Still, the policy is not entirely without its critics.


“There is something deeply humane about this policy, this idea that people have the right to be parents,” she said. “It’s something that characterizes life here: the value placed on life.”
Read the whole thing.

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At 12:14 PM, Blogger Brian said...

It has be shown that 1,657 In Vitro Fertilisation procedures per million people per year were performed in Israel, which is the highest in the world.


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