Japan considering infertility care subsidies

30 November, 2020 12:00 AM printer

TOKYO: The government is considering creating a subsidy program for small companies to help them provide better support for employees receiving infertility treatment, according to informed sources.

The government hopes that the new program will encourage small companies to establish ways for employees receiving treatment to take leave and receive other support for infertility treatment from fiscal 2021, the sources said.

According to the health ministry, 16 per cent of people who have received infertility treatment quit their jobs as it became too difficult to balance their work with the therapy, report agencies.

People undergoing infertility treatment sometimes need to abruptly change medical appointments depending on their physical conditions. In some cases, they also need to visit the hospital on consecutive days.

As part of efforts to tackle the country’s aging population, the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is working on expanding the public insurance coverage for infertility treatment, while creating a better workplace environment for people receiving such therapy.

The Suga government aims to support people who want to receive infertility treatment by providing subsidies to small companies that create a work environment that allows their employees to easily make time for receiving such care.

Specifically, the government expects the program to encourage more companies to introduce a paid leave system allowing their employees to take half a day off or excuse themselves from work on an hourly basis for infertility treatment, the sources said. Other support measures are likely to include the introduction of staggered commuting and flexible work-time programs.

The government also plans to call on companies to include in their action programs for addressing the low birthrate a support program designed to help their employees balance infertility treatment with their work. Companies with 101 or more employees are obliged to compile such action programs under the law on measures to support the development of future generations.

In October, the health ministry and the Cabinet Office established a team to consider ways to create a better environment for workers who receive infertility treatment. The team plans to include support measures for small companies in its interim report to be compiled at the end of this year.

After deciding details of the envisaged subsidy program, the government plans to earmark necessary costs in its fiscal 2021 budget proposal.

From April 2022, meanwhile, the government plans to expand public health insurance coverage for infertility treatment.

The government plans to expand the insurance coverage to include expensive treatment such as in vitro fertilization and microinsemination as part of fiscal 2022 revisions of government-administered medical service fees, the sources said.