IVF patients are set to save thousands with a new cut-price clinic offering to bulk-bill almost all services.
Primary Health Care, Australia’s largest medical centre provider, has chosen Sydney to open its first bulk-billing IVF clinic, which will slash the average out-of-pocket expenses for patients to about $500 compared with the average gap of $4000 in private clinics.
The IVF clinic, which opens today at Town Hall in Sydney’s CBD, has already had 300 inquiries.
University of NSW figures show there were more than 61,000 IVF cycles in Australia in 2011. The average cost for treatment is about $8000 with between $3000 and $4000 covered by Medicare.
Primary Health Care chief executive Dr Edmund Bateman said with 60 medical clinics and 150 diagnostic practices nationwide, it was big enough to offer bulk-billed IVF treatment and absorb any additional costs instead of passing it on to patients.
“If the medical procedure has an item number (with Medicare) we will bulk-bill it and you will pay nothing for it,” Dr Bateman said.
Patients would still be charged for services not covered by Medicare such as the freezing of embryos and day surgery, which are expected to cost no more than $500.
Blacktown mum Jane Brown, 37, who used IVF treatment to conceive her two children, Ally, 3 and Lincoln, seven weeks, said bulk-billed fertility treatments would be amazing for “average families,” like hers.
Ms Brown and her husband Mark paid about $5000 each for six IVF cycles over eight years to conceive their two children. “We are still paying for it now but in the long run it is worth it of course,” Ms Brown said.
“There are a lot of average families out there who would not be able to afford it because it is too expensive.”
Infertility support group Access Australia chief executive Dr Sandra Dill was cautiously optimistic of the bulk-billing clinic. “If it is true there would be greater equity of access for treatment because there won’t be any additional costs,” Ms Dill said.
“But we would encourage people to seek advice from a number of clinics to decide what treatment is best.’’
Ms Dill said IVF was a huge burden for many couples.
“We are regularly contacted by people asking for clinics with the best results because they have taken out loans and can’t afford for it not to work.”
Dr Bateman said the IVF clinic had the staff and resources to conduct 5000 cycles are year but could double that if there was a greater demand.