Relook neonatal insurance requirement in IVF process

Recently, I accompanied my wife for her second in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycle at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

The duty officer informed us that we had to purchase assisted reproduction programme (ARP) insurance. This is despite the fact that we already bought the insurance during the first IVF cycle, which was unsuccessful.

This neonatal insurance is mandated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and must be purchased upon commencement of the embryo transfer cycle.

While I support the move to make this compulsory for couples undergoing IVF, because of higher risks of birth complications, I believe the implementation is flawed.

First, couples cannot be expected to know if the IVF cycle is successful or not during embryo transfer. If the embryo does not develop and no pregnancy occurs, then no neonatal insurance is required.

Second, even if the process results in a pregnancy, there is no guarantee of a live delivery. Without a delivery, there is, arguably, no covenant between the couple and the insurer. The insurer would then have accepted the premium without giving anything in return.

Without a delivery, there is, arguably, no covenant between the couple and the insurer. The insurer would then have accepted the premium without giving anything in return.

Third, couples who are unsuccessful in their first IVF attempt and want to try again are unfairly penalised, as they have to repurchase the insurance as a pre-requisite before starting a fresh IVF cycle.

The premium for ARP insurance can range from $68 to $2,739. The full amount must be paid upfront by cheque only. Medisave payment is not allowed and there is no deferment scheme.

Understandably, the cumulative cost can be considerable for multiple IVF cycles.

The MOH needs to re-examine its policy to better serve Singaporean couples trying to conceive.

I propose that couples be allowed to delay the purchase of ARP insurance until such time when the doctor can confirm pregnancy after the embryo transfer.

And if there is no live delivery, there should be a full refund of the premium for that cycle.

Sim Eng Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2017, with the headline 'Relook neonatal insurance requirement in IVF process'. Print Edition | Subscribe