The insurance industry is maturing in India with newer activities being brought under the ambit of its cover, the latest being surrogacy. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) has instructed to cover the cost of surrogacy within its health insurance plans, a move that is expected to provide relief to thousands who are forced to choose surrogacy to rear a family.
According to media reports, as enjoined by the regulator, insurance companies would have to provide cover for costs related to surrogacy including expenditure on treatment for infertility and that of the surrogate mother, delivery of the child and post-natal care.
Though no firm figures are available it is commonly believed that thousands and thousands of couples go the surrogacy way to parenthood in India.
India has been witnessing declining fertility rates which have crept down from 5.9 in 1950 to 2 in 2021. But a number of couples have reported infertility problems with incidents of work-related stress and lifestyle issues rising in couples, which is more pronounced in cities.
When infertility treatment fails, many couples have responded by opting for surrogacy where a woman is ready to let a childless couple use her womb to carry their child. One of the factors often holding back couple from surrogacy is the cost of the procedure.
Though assisted reproductive techniques first began in the country in 1978 in Kolkata, surrogacy became a regulated zone with the enactment of the Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2021. It was estimated by the Lancet journal that in 2012 about 25,000 cases of surrogacy took place in India.