Prime Minister Tusk (L) and Health Minister Bartosz Arkulowicz: photo - PAP/Rafal Guz
“Reimbursement for in vitro will be provided to couples – and not only married ones - who can prove that they have been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby for a year,” Tusk told journalists at Monday's press conference, as cited by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
Under the Health Ministry's programme, IVF will be listed and standardised as an ordinary medical procedure such as a tonsillectomy, meaning that funds can be freed up for the treatment without passing a bill in parliament on the matter.
Tusk has promised 100 million zloty (24.3 million euro) in state funding each year, channelled via the National Health Fund (IVF), and he has claimed that the treatment will reach some 15,000 couples over the next three years.
Advocates of state funding had argued that the current situation favoured the wealthy, but excluded thousands of prospective parents who could not afford to go private.
When asked about the maximum age for those entitled to the treatment, Tusk said that it would be available to adult women up to the age of forty.
The prime minister noted that initially there will be no reimbursement for hormonal treatment taken in preparation for the procedure, but that “in the near future, with 2014 in mind”, the government aims to at least partially finance it.
"Few people realise that the hormonal treatment alone prior to the procedure can be relatively cheap or very expensive, depending on the health problems of the person who it is subjected to, there are also more expensive and less expensive drugs, and therefore more or less effective,” he said.
A recent poll by Poland's Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS) found that some 79 percent of respondents were in favour of state funding for the treatment for married couples who are unable to have children naturally.
Tusk's own party, Civic Platform, was divided as to how to approach legislation on the matter, with a conservative faction headed by Justice Minister Jaroslaw Gowin preparing one draft bill, and a more liberal faction under Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska, deputy chairman of the Civic Platform party club, preparing another.
Gowin's draft bill would have excluded non-married couples from the prodecure.
Conservative opposition party Law and Justice had declared earlier this year it wanted an outright ban on the treatment.
However, party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski later announced that his party was open to talks on the matter, and that he might be able to find "common ground" with the more conservative elements in Tusk's party. (nh/pg)