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February 04, 2015
Quebec cuts in vitro fertilization coverage

The Quebec government has tabled legislation to cut certain fertility treatments from that province’s public health care program.

Under the proposed legislation, medicare coverage for in vitro fertilization will be eliminated.  The treatment has been fully covered without limits by the provincial plan since 2010.  Quebec was the only province to cover the procedure in its public health care plan.

Only artificial insemination will be fully covered.  The province will also cover fertility preservation, such as egg freezing, in special cases such as when a women is about to undergo cancer treatments.  

The move has been widely criticised by some medical specialists and public interest groups.

“Quebec was really seen as one of the leaders in North America in terms of recognizing infertility as a medical condition,” says Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society President Neal Mahutte.  “Quebec went from being the leader in North America in having the most comprehensive coverage to being at the back of the line.”

A particularly controversial measure in the bill is the banning of in vitro fertilization for all women under age 18 and over the age 42, even if they wish to pay for the procedure themselves.  It would also prevent health care professionals from referring such patients to in vitro clinics in other provinces.

Mr. Mahutte called that rule “preposterous.”

Since extending funding for the procedure in 2010, the cost of funding in vitro fertilization treatments in the province has risen from $16 million to $80 million in 2012-13.

For plan sponsors with Quebec employees, the elimination of provincial health care support for in vitro fertilization could result in an increase in fertility treatment claims.

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