HPA to subsidize artificial fertilization starting in 2015
By Queena Yen ,The China Post
August 28, 2014, 12:26 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) announced yesterday that there will be subsidies for artificial fertilization next year, hoping to boost the low fertility rate in Taiwan.
Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) said the low fertility rate has always been one of the most serious problems in Taiwan. Although there have been many policies aimed at boosting the fertility rate in Taiwan, it seems that they did not work as expected, he said.
Chiu announced a three-stage artificial fertilization subsidy project that aims to reduce the economic burden of infertility treatments and solve the problem of fewer children.
Chiu stated that the first stage will begin next year. It will offer subsidies up to NT$100,000 to low-income families. In the first stage, it is estimated that 391 people will benefit in 2015. The HPA also plans to expand the project to couples whose family incomes are under 70 percent of average income in 2016. The third stage in 2017 will further offer this service to couples who earn more than 30 percent of the average family's income.
The three-stage plan is anticipated to raise the total fertility rate from 1.055 in 2014 to 1.100 in 2017, according to the statistics of the HPA.
Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞), director-general of the HPA, stated that the phenomenon of late marriage is directly connected to the increasing number of artificial fertilization cases. Compared to 1998, the number of newborns through artificial fertilization has increased from 2,317 to 5,825 in 2012.
Chiou also pointed out that the funds for this subsidy come from health taxes on cigarettes, which will not affect the National Health Insurance system. In addition, she emphasized that there will be relevant regulations set not only to prevent abuse of the money but also to secure the medical quality of artificial fertilization, for example, to limit the embryo implant numbers to avoid multiple births and premature births that may have a negative impact on both mothers and children.
Huang Hong-yuan (黃泓淵), president of the Taiwanese Society for Reproductive Medicine, expressed his approval of this new policy, saying that it can help many couples in Taiwan who are under pressure to have children the old-fashioned way.
However, Yan Wen-shan (楊文山), a researcher from the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, said the policy may only have limited effects. He thinks that the government should work on providing an environment for enhancing the willingness to give birth to children.