One for the Country

We may not represent a large % of the population, but we represent the very segment of the population that Medicare should be most likely to assist.

We pay our Medicare Levies. We work, we pay taxes. We long to fulfill the ‘Great Australian Family Dream’ as outlined in 2004 by then treasurer Peter Costello who famously encouraged parents to have three children: “one for the husband, one for the wife and one for the country”. The dream of a family it seems, is one that is entrenched in every aspect of life.

We are everyday women, with everyday dreams. The idea of the nuclear family is the ‘norm’ in Australia. So some of us long to have our nuclear family. We may have one child, but we’d like to provide our child with a sibling. Yet, we have been robbed of fulfilling our dreams by medical circumstances.

Others of us here on this page don’t have any children at all. The yearning for a child is a strong and primal desire – and it’s not one that can be dismissed lightly.The quote ‘Never give up on something you think about every day’ is one that comes to mind.

Whatever our situation, there is one thing we all have in common – surrogacy is the only means by which we can have children. So why should we be forgotten by Medicare?

There will never be a large % of the population that access surrogacy. So the money we are talking about in terms of Medicare rebates would not become a major financial burden on the system any more than the current IVF rebates are. It just doesn’t make sense on any level that women who are at a medical disadvantage are given less support from the Medicare system than their more fertile sisters.

Surrogacy relies on IVF to operate. So not giving Medicare rebates for IVF on surrogacy  – to the group of women that absolutely and unequivocally need it – seems to go against the grain of what Medicare is set up to do. That is – to make healthcare equitable and accessible to all.

This week, I’ve heard too many sad conversations from our group of women, who are sinking their life savings into one single IVF cycle in the hope it works. The sadness knowing that if this rarified IVF cycle doesn’t work and their surrogate doesn’t get pregnant the curtains fall down on the stage of family dreams.

Given the opportunity to make a few attempts this need not be so. IVF is not an exact science, the hands of creation are still meticulous and exacting. It’s quite normal for a fertility specialist to say that the first attempt is quite literally ‘the test’ to see how you perform on the drugs. The subsequent cycle will be tweaked, refined. Like any good experiment.

When each cycle costs 18,000 or thereabouts, it’s a very bitter pill to swallow. Large numbers sound so abstract, but no matter your current wage you know how hard it is to save that money, only to find you can but afford one cycle. The test. The ultimate test of your finances, and also your ability to handle stress.

If we could change Costello’s mantra to 3 IVF cycles, I’d be happy. One for the father, one for the mother, and one for the Country.

Sign our Petition for Change to Medicare Laws

Our petition for the House of Representatives is now complete. We would love for your support in obtaining signatures. Everyone can assist.

Given this is a formal document; a strict procedure needs to be followed for us to be able to submit it to the House of Representatives. For example it is very important that each page is original.

Download the document by clicking on the below link in blue:

Petition for change of Medicare Law

Once you have filled your page or pages with signatures, please return it to us. This must be done via mail or dropped off in person as each original page must be submitted to parliament.

Return to:
Melissa Delaware
69 James Josey Avenue
Springfield Lakes QLD 4300

If you have any questions about the petition or what it is we are actually asking for, please do not hesitate to contact us or comment below and we will answer your questions.

Your support is invaluable and these changes are not possible without your support.

Thank you so much

Janelle’s Story

In 2008 my husband and I experienced the heartache of miscarriage. My doctor told me that it was most likely due to fibroids and that I needed to consider surgery. We tried to fall pregnant again over the next 12 months without success. As it was, I didn’t know how I would handle a second miscarriage anyway so in 2009 I had the surgery to remove the fibroids but there were too many. My doctor told me he stopped counting after 100 and then had to stop removing them altogether as it would risk the viability of my uterus. Even after the surgery, there were still so many tiny fibroids that the walls of my uterus looked like rice bubbles. Since 2009 we have undergone more treatment to shrink the fibroids and six IVF cycles. Along the way, we have been able to create some beautiful little embyros but the bottom line is that I just don’t have a good enough uterus to keep them in.

After our last IVF cycle, my husband and I sat down and discussed our options. We considered stopping altogether and not having a family, but neither of us were willing to go that way. And so the other option was surrogacy. We weighed up the financial cost and what it is going to mean for us. At the end of the day we decided that the chance of having a beautiful baby in our arms was worth it and we couldn’t give up before we had tried everything. But the financial impact of surrogacy will affect us for the rest of our lives. It will mean that I will have to go back to work a lot sooner after the birth than I otherwise would want to. It means we won’t be able to afford to buy a home in the next few years. It means our baby won’t have everything we would like to give them, but they will have a loving, dedicated mother and father who want that child in their lives more than anything else in the world.

I am so blessed that surrogacy is an option for us and that we have a wonderful surrogate who I cannot thank enough. But it’s not an easy option. I’ve grieved the loss of not being able to carry a baby myself and we have had to make some serious financial decisions. But by removing the discrimination in the Medicare Legislation, my husband and I will be able to start our long hoped for family, like so many other Australians, without the additional crushing expense. It won’t lessen the emotional impact of not being able to carry your own child but it will mean that the child is born into a family not burdened with added debt, over and above the usual cost of bring a new life into the world.

General IVF Costs vs Surrogacy IVF Costs

Where ART is required to create embryos, provided a surrogate is not used, Medicare financially assists families by providing rebates. This is regardless as to whether the couples own sperm and eggs are used, they use donor sperm and eggs or a combination of both. Provided a surrogate is not used to carry the embryo Medicare will provide a rebate. These rebates are paid in accordance with the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and are not means tested.

Below is a table showing the average out of pocket expenses, couples can expect to pay when they do not use a surrogate:

IVF Australia, IVF Treatment Costs, http://ivf.com.au/ivf-fees/ivf-costs (February 2013)

IVF Australia, IVF Treatment Costs, http://ivf.com.au/ivf-fees/ivf-costs (February 2013)

Medicare does not provide a rebate for hospital related services, such as egg collection and embryo transfer. However Medicare may provide a rebate for the anaesthetist and those with private health may be eligible for a rebate from their fund. Out of pocket expenses for hospital related services range from $1,000 to $2,400 depending on whether the couple has private health cover.

With the assistance of Medicare, couples can expect to pay a total of $3500 to $5000 per full cycle.

There is no limit to how many cycles a couple may undertake during a year. In fact, the more cycles a couple does each year, the more Medicare will pay. When couples reach their annual threshold, the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN) provides an additional rebate. Given it is usually necessary for a woman to have 3-5 IVF cycles before a successful pregnancy occurs , this can result in Medicare contributing $7,500 to $13,500.

Where a surrogate is used, Medicare does not provide any rebate for the IVF cycle. This is regardless of whether the couple use their own eggs and sperm to create the embryos or where donor eggs and sperm are used. Couples using a surrogate to carry their embryo can expect to pay between $16,000 – $18,000 for a single IVF cycle. In addition to these expenses couples using surrogates have legal costs, counselling costs and the usual pregnancy costs. Couples can expect to spend up to $60,000, provided their surrogate gets pregnant within the first or subsequent IVF cycle.

Why is it ok for the Government to help women with fertility issues but who can still carry their babies but not help women who cannot carry their own babies? There is no extra costs or extra procedures involved when a surrogate is used. The IVF procedure is exactly the same, except the embryo goes into another woman not the same woman.

For me personally I have never used IVF. I had no fertility issues. I had cancer, hysterectomy thats it. Can no longer carry my baby. I have just completed my first round of IVF. So far it has cost me almost $17,000. I only got 2 embryos. One embryo is currently, hopefully, growing in my surrogate. The other embryo is on ice. So I only got 2 shots. We cannot afford another $17,000. This is it for us.

If I had my own uterus. So far I would be out of pocket about $4000. The pressure would not be as great for one of these two embryos to become a baby, because we could have another go. We could afford another $4000. In fact 3 rounds of IVF with Medicare rebates would be less than what I have paid so far for 1 round.

Just seems so unfair to me. Why should I be treated differently to so many of my friends who have done IVF. Why should I not get a shot of having the family I always dreamed of?

These laws need to change. Equal access to Medicare Rebates to all those doing IVF!

51 Letters sent to Australian Politicians and other Community Groups

Thanks to our group who is campaigning to change the unfair Medicare laws, we have managed to send 51 letters to politicians and other community groups in a few days. Well done everyone!

But this is not enough!! If we want to be heard its going to take a lot more than 51 letters. I urge you all send letters to your politicians. We have made it easy for you, we have included template letters and contact details for many politicians.

Here is a link where you can see who has sent what letters and the responses we have received so far. Letters sent and Response to date

Busy Weekend for Sending Letters

Well its been a busy weekend sending letters to politicians and other organisations asking for assistance. Thought it would be good to give everyone an update of what letters have been sent over the weekend:

Tanya Plibersek
Laurence Springborg
Tanya Plibersek
Peter Dutton
Laurence Springborg
Jo-ann Miller
Annastacia Palaszczuk
Jackie Trad
Nicola Roxon
Sarah Hansen-Young
Adam Bant
Lee Rhiannon
Kim Carr
Stephen Conroy
Tony Zappia
Jillian​ Skinner
Andrew McDonald
David Davis
Gavin Jennings
Kate Gallagher
Jeremy Hanson
Michelle O’Byrne
David William Tollner
Jeremy Rockliff
Kon Vatskalis
Jack Snelling
Rob Lucas
Kim Hames
Roger Hugh Cook
Queensland Assoication of Independent Legal Services
Caxton Legal Centre Inc
South West Brisbane Community Legal Centre
Women’s Legal Service

Remember if you have sent letters please let us know so we can update our activities sheet. So far I have only been notified by one person of what letters she sent. Thanks Carrie!!

I won’t upload copies of all the above letters, many are the same and they are based on the templates uploaded here. However if you wish for a copy of any of the above please just ask.

Letters sent to Australian Health Care Reform Alliance and Queensland Council of Unions

Today I sent letters to the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance (AHCRA) and the Queensland Council of Unions. Both organisations that friends suggest I write too.

The following is on the AHCRA’s website:

The Australian Health Care Reform Alliance (AHCRA) is a coalition of peak health groups working towards a better health system for Australia’s future.

Australia’s health system was designed more than a generation ago and no longer meets the needs of our community. Many Australians are missing out on the care they need or not receiving the best possible care for their condition. There is a growing gap between the health of the best and worst off in our community which is undermining the fairness of our society.

We need to make major changes to our health system to make it better and fairer for all. With an ageing population and increasing demand for health care, we need to ensure that every dollar we spend on health care delivers maximum value. We also need to make sure that our health system reflects the values of our community.

AHCRA is working to find solutions to the problems with our existing health system, including:

· poor access to care for many Australians
· consumer frustration with problems in navigating an overly complex system
· the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
· increasing out-of-pocket costs for services
· a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and other health professionals
· an insufficient focus on prevention and primary care
· the inefficient allocation of resources caused by the current State/ Commonwealth funding structure.

The Federal Government has embarked on a major health reform initiative, involving making significant changes to the ways in which health care is funded and delivered. AHCRA supports the overall goals of health reform and is working to ensure that the reform measures deliver a fairer, more efficient and sustainable health system for Australia’s future.

Check out their website for more information; or you may even like to send your own letter to them asking for assistance: http://www.healthreform.org.au..

The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) is a representative body of Trade union organisations, known as a Labour council, in the State of Queensland, Australia. As of 2011 there are 32 affiliated unions and 13 provincial Trades & Labor Councils (also known as Branches of the QCU) affiliated to the Council, representing some 350,000 workers. It may seen odd to write to the QCU, but having worked in the union movement for almost 7 years, I am aware that they love to get onboard where the average Australian are treated less favourably to others.

You can view the emails I sent here:AHCRA and
QCU