Israel’s Health Ministry is mulling a plan to vastly increase government assistance to couples with fertility difficulties to grow larger families, while decreasing the amount of subsidies to women over the age of 43 who have never succeeded in getting pregnant.
Israeli law heavily subsidizes fertility treatments – including expensive invitro fertilization (IVF) procedures – to couples with difficulties conceiving and bringing children to term, through Israel’s extensive national healthcare system. According to law, current subsidies entitle couples in which the wife is 45 years old or younger to undergo almost unlimited treatments in order to conceive and give birth to two living children. Now, a new law might bump that number up to three, enabling Israeli families who might otherwise be unable to afford larger families to try for an additional child.
However, the new legislation comes with a catch. According to Ministry of Health statistics, women over the age of 43 who repeatedly attempt to get pregnant through IVF but consistently do not achieve results have very low chances of conceiving – less than 1% on each attempt. The ministry estimates that millions of shekels a year are spent trying to help these women become mothers, with minute levels of success.
Because of this reality, the ministry is weighing the possibility of limiting subsidies to women aged 44-45, and using those funds to enable women 43 and younger to have a third child, as they stand a greater chance of becoming pregnant. Up to the age of 35, the chances of becoming pregnant via IVF are 40% on each attempt. For the next seven years, that probability drops to 25%. At the age of 43, the success rate ranges from 5-10%.
Over the years, the Finance Ministry has raised the idea of cutting costs by reducing fertility treatment subsidies, but has continually been overturned by the Knesset. This new plan would not cut the budget for treatments, but would rather redistribute the funds to those with a higher chance for success.
About the Author: Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
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