A population based economic analysis of cross-border payments for fertility services in Luxembourg.
- Public Health Research
OBJECTIVE: How fertility patients utilise assisted reproductive services can depend on how easy it is to access such services locally. Little data exist to document the extent of economic outflow that accompanies cross-border patient travel specifically for medical procedures that cannot be obtained in country. METHODS: In this investigation, data from Luxembourg's social security agency were used to audit medical reimbursement payments for IVF within and outside the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg between 1998 and 2007. This study interval offered an opportunity to track IVF expenditures before and after IVF was made freely available within the Grand Duchy. RESULTS: Reimbursement authorizations to IVF providers outside Luxembourg remained stable or slightly elevated until 2005, two years after Luxembourg opened its first IVF centre. Once established in Luxembourg, annual utilisation of the domestic IVF service generally trended upwards (217 cycles in 2003 vs. 569 in 2008). Meanwhile, payments to foreign IVF clinics declined steadily after 2005 reflecting a diminishing number of Luxembourg patients seeking cross-border IVF treatment. CONCLUSION: These data represent the most comprehensive register of cross-border reproductive visits in Europe. Since Luxembourg fully reimburses its citizens for health-related expenses irrespective of where the medical service is obtained, the current investigation renders the "out of pocket" effect of IVF fees irrelevant and characterise consumption of elective medical treatments as a function of service site. Further studies are needed to determine if these findings will generalise to other geographic regions.