Mum fights for bulk-billing IVF service in regions
A Townsville woman who yearns to be a mum is campaigning for bulk-billing IVF clinics to be introduced locally, in a bid to remove the excessive financial burden of an already expensive process.
Since beginning the physically, emotionally and financially gruelling process in March last year, Christine McCowatt and her husband have spent close to $20,000 on trying to become parents.
Mrs McCowatt doesn't accept that the desire to start a family should hold such a heavy financial strain, so she's started a change.org petition.
She said while there were a number of private clinics in Townsville doing great work, patients had to pay full fees, which was in stark contrast to metropolitan cities such as Brisbane where there was at least 14 clinics offering a bulk-billing service.
"For a lot of people it takes more than one cycle because it just depends on how your body responds," she said.
"So it's not fair that by being considered regional we are getting left behind even though we have a tertiary hospital.
"I know there are women out there who have been trying for 10 years - that's a lot of money. They try one round so they have to have a break and save their money again.
"I know women who have accessed their superannuation multiple times to fund this and then that affects them later in life and it shouldn't be that way."
Mrs McCowatt said she knew of many couples who were choosing to travel to bigger cities to access the subsidised treatment that wasn't offered locally. She said after doing the numbers, it worked out cheaper.
"I've noticed on support pages that a significant number of people are travelling because they can't afford a full-cost round," she said.
"We started doing our treatment in Sydney because, even with our travel expenses, it was cheaper. So we would do all our scans and blood tests here and then, when we needed an egg transfer, we would travel to Sydney."
Mrs McCowatt said she knew that any change would most likely be too late for her to benefit from but felt it was an issue worth fighting for.
"We have a hospital that services all of North Queensland, so we know that people already travel from regional communities for medical treatment and we should be the destination for this.
"When families are coming from Mount Isa, for example, they spend money at cafes and book accommodation so that's all money that's staying in our region.
"I hope it (petition) makes a bit of a change and helps other people in the future because it's such a hard road to go down emotionally, let alone financially."
>>For more information, search "low cost IVF in North Queensland".
Originally published as Mum fights for bulk-billing IVF service in regions