SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Korea Bizwire) – Amid the deepening low fertility crisis and record-low birth rates, there is a growing focus on using public financial resources to support egg freezing for women of childbearing age.
This is a desperate measure to reverse the declining birth rate, but it seems necessary to reach a social consensus on whether to include egg freezing for social reasons such as self-development in the scope of support.
According to South Korean public health authorities on Friday, egg freezing involves freezing and preserving eggs for potential future pregnancy. The frozen eggs can be thawed later, allowing attempts at pregnancy using in-vitro fertilization treatment.
Initially, egg freezing was utilized to preserve surplus eggs resulting from excessive ovulation during the in-vitro fertilization treatment, or to maintain fertility for cancer patients before undergoing anti-cancer treatment.
In recent days, however, the number of women who freeze and preserve their eggs just in case they want to have a child in the future is on the rise.
According to statistics from the CHA Medical Group, the number of egg-freezing and preservation procedures for unmarried women conducted at the group’s affiliated hospitals saw a 35-fold increase from 14 cases in 2010 to 493 cases in 2019.
Against this backdrop, government authorities and local municipalities are reviewing the idea of supporting egg freezing as part of efforts to address the low fertility crisis.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced last month that it will provide financial support for egg-freezing procedure expenses, becoming the first local municipality to do so.
The government will cover up to 2 million won, targeting individuals in their 30s and 40s, as well as those in their 20s with a potential risk of early menopause due to diseases. The cost of an egg-freezing procedure ranges from 2.5 million won to 5 million won.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Welfare also expressed a positive stance toward reviewing the possibility of subsidizing these costs.
Subsidizing egg freezing can enhance the potential for future childbirth. However, there are differing views regarding the extent of support from social, ethical and economic perspectives.
In order to allocate fiscal spending or apply health insurance for egg freezing, the government needs to conduct a comprehensive evaluation.
This assessment should determine whether such measures hold economic value, resulting in an actual increase in childbirth, and assess the feasibility of supporting individuals who delay childbirth for personal interests.
M. H. Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)