The Taipei Department of Health yesterday said it would study the feasibility of subsidizing oocyte cryopreservation — the extraction and freezing of egg cells — after city councilors proposed the idea to help boost the city’s birthrate.
Several councilors at a Taipei City Council committee hearing proposed providing subsidies to women aged 25 to 40 to freeze their eggs to improve their chances of conceiving later in life.
Women are having children later on average, but egg freezing is prohibitively expensive for most, Taipei City Councilor Chen E-jun (陳怡君) said.
Photo: Yang Hsin-hui, Taipei Times
Chen suggested requiring a doctor’s consultation and proof of the procedure to receive a one-time subsidy of NT$30,000, followed by NT$5,000 for each of the following three years to pay for storage.
The funds would only be the “tip of the iceberg,” as the procedure typically costs NT$30,000 to NT$100,000, Chen said.
GIVING BIRTH LATER
In 2021, 30 percent of all births were by women aged 35 or older, Taipei City Councilor Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) said, citing Ministry of the Interior data.
In Taipei, the figure was higher than 40 percent, she said.
The average age a woman has her first child has risen by 1.68 years over the past decade to 33.34 in 2021, Taipei City Councilor Liu Tsai-wei (柳采葳) said.
As egg quality gradually declines with age, in vitro fertilization tends to be more successful with younger eggs, Taipei Fertility Center physician Jason Ho (何彥秉) said.
In addition, the egg recovery rate with modern fast-freezing technology exceeds 90 percent, making it a low-risk procedure, he added.
Taipei City Councilor Miao Po-ya (苗博雅) said that marriage should not be a requirement to qualify for the subsidy, as it would exclude unmarried people and same-sex couples.
Taoyuan is already offering the subsidy, she said, asking why Taipei, as the nation’s largest city, is not doing the same.
Taipei City Councilor Lee Yen-chang (李彥昌) proposed studying the results of similar policies in other municipalities before Taipei issues subsidies.
The city should also encourage women to use the eggs later on, he said, adding that people might take the money and never use the service.
The city’s health department is to convene a meeting of experts to discuss the possibility of offering a subsidy, Taipei Department of Health Commissioner Chen Yen-yuan (陳彥元) told the councilors.
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