Chinese provinces research fertility treatments to boost birth rate

Many provinces plan to cover fertility treatments under their local medical insurance plans in a bid to boost the country’s plummeting birth rate, according to national outlet Yicai. reported Thusday.

The city of Xianning in the central province of Hubei became the latest to roll out such measures on Monday, as authorities announced a refund of 10,000 yuan ($1,500) for women over the age of 35 undergoing a assisted reproduction procedure.

The policy followed in Beijing’s footsteps, as the Chinese capital announced 16 assisted reproductive technologies under its state medical insurance scheme in February. However, the city later postponed its decision to implement the policy, citing compliance with state regulations.

Such measures to encourage births – including the enactment of the three-child policy and the provision of various benefits to support families – come at a time when the country recorded its lowest birth rate last year. since its founding in 1949.

Meanwhile, the national infertility rate has also increased 12% to 18% from 2007 to 2020, a level similar to many high-income countries, according to an article published by the medical journal The Lancet last year. However, a survey showed that only 1.2% of infertile couples had an assisted reproductive procedure in 2018, compared to a relatively higher number in high-income countries.

Dong Yuzheng, a demographer at the Guangdong Academy of Population Development, told Yicai that including assisted reproductive technologies in insurance plans will provide more support for pregnant women to receive medical services and ease the burden. economic burden on families.

Earlier this month, health authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang announced that they would set standards for the addition of certain assisted reproductive technologies “in due course”, according to Yicai. Authorities in central Hunan and southwestern Sichuan provinces have also expressed their willingness to include assisted reproductive technologies in their medical insurance plans.

But the high costs associated with these procedures have often made local governments reluctant to include assisted reproductive technologies in their medical plans. Although authorities in Beijing did not cite the financial costs of the postponement, officials in Henan province mentioned in February that the province could not afford expensive assisted reproduction procedures.

Zhang, a 26-year-old woman from Chongqing who only gave her last name for privacy reasons, told Sixth Tone that she had already spent more than 40,000 yuan on a second-generation IVF procedure this year and that she only became pregnant after long treatments. She said the financial burden and low success rate discourage many women from doing so.

“I hope we can get more help from the government,” Zhang said. “We all have a strong desire to have our own child, but we cannot contribute to a population increase without better support.”

Publisher: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: VCG)

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