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The health ministry on Wednesday presented a proposal on public health insurance coverage for fertility treatment from April 2022, including a plan to limit the scope of coverage for women to those under the age of 43.

The proposal was submitted at a meeting of the Central Social Insurance Medical Council, which advises the health minister.

The council largely approved the proposal. It is expected to decide the details of the insurance coverage program, including the age requirement and the treatments and tests to be covered by insurance, as soon as January.

Public insurance coverage for infertility treatment is one of the measures compiled by former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to combat the country’s low birthrate.

According to the health ministry’s proposal, of those diagnosed with infertility, women under 43 at the start of their treatment will be subject to insurance coverage. No age limit will be set for men.

Women under 40 will be able to receive six rounds of treatment per child covered by health insurance, while women aged 40 to 42 will be able to undergo three rounds.

Insurance coverage will be extended not only to people in legal marriages but also those in common-law marriages.

Based on guidelines compiled by the Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine in June this year, insurance-covered treatment and tests are proposed to include in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination.

Assisted reproductive treatment using sperm or eggs donated by a third party is excluded from the proposed scope of insurance coverage.

The council will consider separately whether to have pre-implantation tests to check for chromosomal abnormalities in fertilized eggs covered by insurance.

While no major dissenting opinions were voiced at the council meeting, one member said it would be important to review the scope of insurance coverage appropriately when the reproductive medicine society changes its views on recommended treatment methods. Another member stressed the need to provide related information to the public in ways that are easy to understand.

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