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Japan will not cover preimplantation fertility screening with insurance

Japan’s health ministry on Wednesday unveiled a plan for public health insurance not to cover the preimplantation screening for chromosomal abnormalities of eggs fertilized in vitro.

The plan was presented to the Central Social Insurance Medical Council, which advises the health minister, ahead of the April start of public health insurance coverage for fertility treatment, including artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.

For fertility treatment, the insurance coverage will be available to women who are under age 43 when they begin treatment.

In early February at the earliest, the council will draw up a proposal to revise the medical service fees under the public health insurance program, including the addition of fertility treatment to the list of items covered by the insurance.

Critics say that preimplantation screening prompts the selection of life because the procedure selects and transfers to the uterus fertilized eggs without chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to miscarriage or infertility.

Considering the ethical issues involved, the ministry decided not to put the preimplantation screening on the coverage list this time.

The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology aims to make an application to put the procedure into the category of advanced medical treatment, which can be combined with medical treatment covered by the public insurance.

According to the ministry’s plan, Japan will establish general infertility treatment management fees for artificial insemination and assisted reproductive medical treatment management fees for in vitro fertilization and microinsemination under the public health insurance program.

The ministry will also introduce a requirement that fertility treatment plans be reviewed at least once every six months with the consent of patients.

Currently, most fertility treatment methods are not covered by the public health insurance program.

Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga proposed extending the coverage to such methods as part of measures to tackle the country’s falling birthrate.

Under the insurance program, patients basically pay 30% of the total treatment costs as their out-of-pocket expenses.

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