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Region adds IVF to health insurance as China ramps up birth-boosting policy push - South China Morning Post

Author: boosting policy push

Source: https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3239702/china-population-region-adds-ivf-health-insurance-latest-move-boost-births

Image of Region adds IVF to health insurance as China ramps up birth-boosting policy push - South China Morning Post

China population: region adds IVF to health insurance in latest move to boost birthsSouthwest China’s Guangxi is set to cover in vitro fertilisation (IVF) under its health insurance system, the second of the country’s regions to do so as part of an overall effort to arrest a dramatic slide in the national birth rate.The health department of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region said on Friday that starting next month, it will include IVF as well as other fertility services under its basic medical insurance.It would be China’s second province-level division to allocate government funds to reimburse medical bills for fertility services, after the national capital Beijing.Guangxi’s is the latest effort to encourage people to give birth, as the annual number of Chinese newborns has fallen by around 40 per cent over the past five years.Last year, Chinese women had 9.56 million babies – thelowest total in modern history and the first time the figure had dipped below 10 million.Analysts have said births could further plunge to between 7 million and 8 million this year, further clouding the country’s demographic outlook.Depending on their insurance, Guangxi residents could get up to 70 per cent of their medical bills reimbursed for assisted fertility technology treatments, and each treatment could be reimbursed up to two times.The procedure, a lab-based alternative to traditional methods of conception, can cost up to tens of thousands of yuan and take multiple attempts before it succeeds.More provinces are likely to start reimbursing IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies, independent demographer He Yafu said.“However, the key to boosting birth rates is raising young people’s willingness and lowering the expenses of childbirth,” He said.“The main reason for the plunging birth rates is that young people don’t want to have babies, rather than wanting to but being unable to conceive.”The country saw its population decline last year for the first time since 1961, shrinking its 1.41 billion population by about 850,000.A raft of natalist policies followed at local and central levels, but experts have conceded that immediate effects are unlikely, as similar experiences in developed countries have shown.03:18China reports first population decline in 6 decades, with birth rate at record low in 2022China reports first population decline in 6 decades, with birth rate at record low in 2022China’s northeastern province of Liaoning announced earlier this year that it would start covering fertility services in July, but the plan was delayed and has yet to be implemented.Beijing now covers a total of 16 assisted reproductive services under the government-backed medical insurance plan, including IVF, embryo transplants and freezing eggs or sperm cells.Earlier this year, the National Healthcare Security Administration said it will guide localities to cover reproductive services in medical care.However, at present the policies and medical benefits are exclusive to married women.Unmarried women in China arestill barred from undergoing these procedures themselves, even at their own expense.

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