Letter: IVF could save medical costs
Adrian Peracchio wrote an interesting account of in vitro fertilization, a technology that is now 34 years old ["The future is now," Opinion, July 1]. As stated in the article, IVF is a procedure that was born in a hailstorm of controversy and remains today accountable for 3 percent of all births in the developed nations.
A reason for IVF's rise in popularity is a tremendous improvement in success rates. As reported in the June 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, live birthrates with IVF approximate natural conception in fertile couples. Also, IVF reaches success rates as high as 80.7 percent for couples using donor eggs after three cycles.
Peracchio points out that the cost of IVF, as much as $15,000 in many centers, is often not covered by health insurance, and that IVF was intended as a "last resort" treatment.
This is a misunderstanding of IVF as an alternative only after the failure of less aggressive treatments -- such as inseminations with fertility drugs. Insurance providers cover the drug treatment, which is ironically more expensive. Fertility drug treatments can lead to multiple pregnancies and premature deliveries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we could save $1.1 billion a year if single embryo transfers with IVF were performed instead.
It is a shame that the technology developed by Robert G. Edwards for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine remains available only to a minority of couples and is still not recognized by insurance companies.
Dr. David Kreiner, Plainview
Editor's note: The writer is the co-founder of Long Island IVF, an infertility care center.