Fertility treatments like IVF and IUI are unfortunately rather expensive. For the ten percent of couples dealing with infertility, the astounding price of fertility treatments may make the dream of parenthood seem out of reach. The average cost for just one cycle of IVF is about $12,400 according to the ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine). IUI, which is not nearly as expensive as IVF, costs around $300-$800 per cycle.
What is the first step in paying for fertility treatments?
If you are looking at the possibility that you will need fertility treatments like IVF, the first place to start would be to research your insurance coverage. IVF and other infertility procedures are often not covered by insurance. Some states require insurance companies to cover infertility treatments. However, there are only 15 states that currently require infertility coverage and many of these states have loopholes for small businesses or companies that self insure. Moreover, several of the 15 states that require infertility coverage, do not require IVF to be covered; or if they do, they limit the amount of IVF cycles.
|The following states require insurance coverage for infertility treatments:|
Making Fertility Treatments Affordable
If you are going to need fertility treatments here are some ideas to keep the costs down:
Shop around: Think of fertility treatments like you would any other service that you would purchase. The price of IVF varies from clinic to clinic. Of course, you don't want to just go with the cheapest fertility clinic. You should also look into the clinic's success rate, whether or not they participate with your insurance, how much experience the doctor has, and if they have a waiting list for treatment. If you like a clinic but find that they are charging more than you want to spend, don't be afraid to ask for a discount. They may not lower their price, but it never hurts to ask.
It is also a good idea to shop around for medication prices. Medications contribute to the cost of fertility treatments. Shopping around for your medications can help bring the overall cost down. Check out your local pharmacies, mail-order pharmacies, and also consider purchasing your prescriptions online. Your doctor's office may be able to assist you with finding the best prices on fertility medications, but doing your own comparison shopping may be the best approach to getting your prescriptions at the lowest price.
Consider using lower technology treatments: IVF is usually not the first course of treatment for infertile couples. Before resorting to IVF, your doctor may suggest other lower cost fertility treatments like IUI. IUI may be a good option for couples with certain fertility issues like low sperm count, endometriosis, or unexplained infertility. IUI does not have the same success rate as IVF though. Sometimes couples attempting to save money on fertility treatments end up spending more money on IUI cycles than they would have if they had gone straight to IVF because the IUI treatments are unsuccessful and they end up needing IVF anyway. You should discuss your options with your doctor and find out which fertility treatment makes the most sense for you and your particular fertility issues.
Another way to lower the cost of IVF is to use a less expensive method of IVF called natural cycle IVF. When fertility clinics first started performing IVF, they did not use fertility medications to stimulate egg production. Stimulated IVF cycles became the norm because of obvious reasons. Stimulating a woman to produce more eggs, called superovulation, resulted in more embryos and therefore a higher rate of success. Superovulation increases the success rate, but it also makes IVF more expensive. To lower the cost of IVF, you can discuss with your doctor the option of having a natural IVF cycle or an unstimulated cycle. There are disadvantages with this method too, so talk to your doctor about what is best for you and your particular fertility issues.
Look into shared risk programs or refund programs: Many fertility clinics offer a refund program or shared risk program. The way these programs work is that the couple pays for a certain number of cycles up front. In exchange, they receive a guarantee that they will either get pregnant or receive a refund if they do not conceive during the cycles that they paid for. There is typically a required non-refundable fee for these programs and you may be restricted from participating if you are over 37, if you have certain fertility issues, or if you have had unsuccessful IVF procedures in the past. The advantage of using a shared risk program is knowing that if your treatment is unsuccessful, you will be able to get a refund on most, or possibly all, of the money that was spent on the procedures. The drawback to these programs is that if you do get pregnant during your first or second IVF cycle, you will not get a refund for the remaining prepaid cycles.
Consider “egg sharing”: Some fertility clinics offer discounts or free IVF cycles to women who are willing to donate any remaining eggs that are not used during IVF. You may have to meet certain egg donor criteria, such as being under age 35, to be eligible.
Take an IVF vacation: Some couples are opting to take drastic measures to keep the cost of IVF down. Reproductive tourism is a new industry that is attracting American couples looking for more affordable options for IVF. Some couples are traveling to India, the Ukraine, or even South Africa to get IVF because the costs are so much lower there. For example, in India, you can have a complete IVF cycle done for only $3000. Before making the decision to leave the country, you should learn more about the clinic and their success rate. You also need to determine how much you will need for travel expenses. If the clinic's success rate is lower, it may end up actually costing you more when you factor in travel expenses and the amount of time you will need to take off from work to travel abroad, especially if you end up needing to have more than one IVF cycle.
Get an IVF loan: There are several companies that specialize in loans specifically for IVF. Capital One has a loan program for IVF and other fertility treatments. Other IVF loan programs include IntregraMed Financial Services, the ARC Fertility Program, and Care Credit.
Apply for a grant or scholarship: There are a few programs that provide grants or scholarships for infertile couples. For more information on IVF scholarships and grants, you can visit www.inciid.org or cadefoundation.org.
Use IVF as a tax deduction: Medical procedures like IVF can be deducted from your taxes if your expenses total more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Any medical or dental expenses over the 7.5% can be itemized on your tax return.
*See the IRS publication 502 for more information.