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Public financing of IVF: a review of policy rationales

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There is great diversity in in vitro fertilization (IVF) funding and reimbursement policies and practice throughout Europe and the rest of the world. While many existing reimbursement and regulatory frameworks address safety and legal concerns, economic factors also assume a central role. However, there are several problems with the evidence that is available on the economics of IVF. This suggests there is a need for more robust cost-effectiveness studies. It also indicates the need for alternative rationales to justify the reimbursement of IVF, which might more fully account for the social, political, ethical, and philosophical considerations embedded in notions of infertility and technology-driven reproductive treatments. The merits and limitations of five alternative rationales are discussed. The review suggests that while no existing single rationale provides a complete framework with which to support funding decisions, taken together they provide guideposts which signal important issues for consideration and highlight where further research, action, and debate are needed.

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