October 11, 2018 13:19
About six percent of babies born in 2017 were conceived thanks to fertility treatments subsidized by the government.
According to data from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 20,854 out of 357,700 newborn babies or 5.8 percent, were conceived through government-assisted fertility treatments. The figure has increased by 1.8 times from 3.3 percent in 2013.
The number of such babies is expected to surpass 20,000 this year as well since it already reached 10,654 in the first half of this year.
The government partially subsidizes the cost of in-vitro fertilization for households whose income is below 130 percent of the national median income. For a two-person household, the threshold would be W3.7 million per month (US$1=W1,138).
The number of babies conceived through fertility treatment is much higher if those who do not qualify for assistance are included.
"An increasing number of couples experience fertility issues due to various factors like late marriage and environmental hormones," said Prof. Kim Sung-hoon at Asan Medical Center in Seoul.
The number of people who received fertility treatments rose from 195,719 in 2013 to 216,211 last year, an average annual increase of 5,000. Last year, 151,274 women and 64,937 men had fertility treatments.
In October last year, the government extended national health insurance coverage to up to 10 fertility treatments per woman up to the age of 44, which includes up to three intrauterine inseminations and seven in-vitro treatments.
Experts say additional assistance should be considered to couples who are desperate to have babies.
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