SEOUL, March 16 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean fertility clinics will have to disclose their treatment success rates starting this September.
Under new health care reforms proposed by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday, fertility clinics will be obliged to share their success rates with patients, a move designed to protect the rights of couples struggling with infertility and hold the medical industry more accountable.
The reforms come as South Korea’s fertility rates have continued to decline despite the government’s concerted financial efforts.
Between 2006 and 2017, all levels of government spent a combined total of 821.91 billion won to help infertile couples. But the success rates stayed around a disappointing 30 percent over the last few years, with many clinics posting a success rate of zero percent.
Adding fuel to the fire was laxness on the government’s part in keeping the quality of reproductive technologies high, leaving fertilization success rates in secret, which sparked questions over the competence of some clinics.
A lack of balance between clinics also emerged as an issue, according Kim Seung-Hee, a member of the Health and Welfare Committee who cited data from the health ministry.
Despite a total of 87,155 infertility treatment procedures having taken place at 368 government-backed medical clinics in 2016 alone, more than half of the patients received treatment from just 11 clinics.
In the past, only low-income patients with infertility who hadn’t been able to conceive despite having sexual intercourse over a period of one year were able to receive subsidies from the health ministry.
Last October, however, the income threshold was scrapped and the benefit was made available to all women under the age of 44, with expenses for both artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment covered by the national health insurance.