Travis Jones, Marketing Executive, Pacific Prime Singapore
On the back of the news that Singapore has been listed by the Economist as the ‘best place in Asia to be born’ comes a realization for many prospective parents that now is the time to act to have children. For some, however, the dream of having children is not realized so easily.
Couples requiring fertility treatment to conceive have always faced a variety of issues. From the stigma attached to infertility, to finding the right treatment for a particular problem, fertility treatments can have complexity beyond the medical technology itself. Perhaps one of the biggest issues for parents-to-be who wish to undergo fertility treatment is paying for it.
As with many specialized medical treatments, fertility treatment can be very costly for people in Singapore, but private insurance coverage frequently excludes any coverage for it due to the unforeseen costs related to the conditions of unborn children and the low number of people acquiring the insurance because of Singapore's low birth rate.
Since 2008, the Singapore government has provided approved parents with a co-funding scheme that funds 50 per cent of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) costs up to a maximum of US$3,000 per cycle for up to three cycles.
For Assisted Conception Procedures (ACP), MediSave funds can also be used up to US$6,000 for the first cycle, with less being paid out for the second and third. One cycle of treatment can cost between US$8,000 and US$15,000 in total. If a woman becomes pregnant on any of the first three tries, she will be able to receive the above benefits, but what about after the child is born?
Babies born as a result of ACP are more prone to neonatal complications. For this reason, it has been mandatory since 1992 for parents of babies conceived through IVF to obtain extra insurance coverage for the child.
The government has hinted that, in the coming year, insurance coverages for IVF newborns will be raised above the current maximum levels of US$300 per day for intensive care. This is good news for would-be parents, as current coverage levels are oftentimes not enough to cover the costs of care and hospital stays.
Babies needing more specialized care may require up to US$585 a day for treatment that is not subsidized by the hospital. It is also possible that limits could be increased for the duration of hospital stays for IVF newborns beyond the current 180 day limit.
Another change that will be occurring this year for fertility clinics, as strange as it may seem, is that Singaporean fertility clinics will need to have an Australian certification in order to operate. This government requirement is largely a reaction to a sperm donor mix-up in 2010 that was enacted in the hopes that the quality of service in Singapore's fertility clinics will be brought up to international standards. However, this change has caused a problem for some clinics, as the number of Infertility Counsellors able to give the certification is not great enough to certify all clinics in time for this year's deadline.
Despite possible government mandates for the expansion of coverage, people who have yet to have children should plan ahead, obtaining good private insurance can help ensure that comprehensive coverage is provided without breaking the bank. Even if you are not able to obtain coverage for Assisted Conception Procedures, it is always a good idea to make sure that you have health insurance for the resulting pregnancy.