The impact of consumer affordability on access to assisted reproductive technologies and embryo transfer practices: an international analysis

Fertil Steril. 2014 Jan;101(1):191-198.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Oct 21.


Objective: To systematically quantify the impact of consumer cost on assisted reproduction technology (ART) utilization and numbers of embryos transferred.

Design: Ordinary least squared (OLS) regression models were constructed to measure the independent impact of ART affordability-measured as consumer cost relative to average disposable income-on ART utilization and embryo transfer practices.

Setting: Not applicable.

Patient(s): Women undergoing ART treatment.

Intervention(s): None.

Main outcome measure(s): OLS regression coefficient for ART affordability, which estimates the independent effect of consumer cost relative to income on utilization and number of embryos transferred.

Result(s): ART affordability was independently and positively associated with ART utilization with a mean OLS coefficient of 0.032. This indicates that, on average, a decrease in the cost of a cycle of 1 percentage point of disposable income predicts a 3.2% increase in utilization. ART affordability was independently and negatively associated with the number of embryos transferred, indicating that a decrease in the cost of a cycle of 10 percentage points of disposable income predicts a 5.1% increase in single-embryo transfer cycles.

Conclusion(s): The relative cost that consumers pay for ART treatment predicts the level of access and number of embryos transferred. Policies that affect ART funding should be informed by these findings to ensure equitable access to treatment and clinically responsible embryo transfer practices.

Keywords: Assisted reproductive technology; cost analysis; insurance mandates; single-embryo transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Embryo Transfer / economics*
  • Embryo Transfer / trends
  • Empirical Research
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Registries
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / economics*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / trends
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult