Can You Afford Fertility Treatment?
So you’ve been trying to conceive without any luck, and you want to start fertility treatment. You’re scared, excited and hopeful, and trying to figure out what you can afford. Are fertility treatment costs equal to a Chevy, a Lexus or a big Mercedes-Benz?
The answer varies tremendously depending on the treatment prescribed, the number of fertility clinics in your area—the fewer the number of clinics, the higher the average prices, according to a survey by RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association—and how many cycles it takes to get results, i.e., a baby. It is hard to comparison-shop because clinics generally do not post pricing on their websites. Here are some questions to ask about fertility treatment cost when you go for your first consultation at the fertility clinic.
1.What is the Typical Course of Treatment for a Couple Like Us, and What Does It Cost?
The fertility specialist will have your medical histories and may have test results if you have already had some preliminary testing like semen analysis for the male partner and a blood test for FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) for the female partner. More tests may be required to better understand the causes of your fertility issues. The doctor will explain what the next steps are. She may recommend starting with IUI, intrauterine insemination, or going straight to IVF, in vitro fertilization. That decision should depend on your medical situation, your age, and how many children you would ideally want to have over time. You also may need additional procedures as part of IVF, such as IVF with ICSI, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or genetic testing on the resulting embryo before implantation. Ask the doctors how many cycles the average patient like you requires.
2. Are Medications, Tests, Lab Work and Consultations Included in the Cost of Treatment?
This question is important so you understand the whole cost of what you are undertaking. It also helps to clear up any misunderstandings. You may ask, “What is the average cost of an IVF cycle?” The doctor or the clinic financial adviser may say, “$12,000.” But they may mean “the cost of the IVF procedure and embryology lab,” not including medications, tests, and/or consultations. It’s best to ask the question so everyone is communicating clearly. And make sure you take notes as the information is complex and may be confusing.
3. Could We Have a Detailed List of Procedures and Costs?
Getting a list is helpful for investigating reimbursement by your health insurance company. The list is also useful in understanding the cost implications of procedures like ICSI or PGD, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, which may be needed if there are genetic abnormalities in the sperm or the eggs or if a partner carries a genetic disease, or other techniques such as Freeze/Thaw IVF, or CCS, another technology breakthrough that helps determine the viability of the embryos.
4. What is the Cost of Medications?
The answer to this question becomes even more important if medications are not included in the cost of IVF treatment quoted to you, and most often they are not as most fertility doctors do not or cannot dispense medications, so they do not get deeply involved in the pricing, but will give a general estimate of costs. The drugs are used to help the female partner produce more eggs for IVF and to regulate her cycle for implantation. The medications are powerful hormones and are the most costly of the infertility drugs. Medications for IVF typically make up about one third of the cost of the treatment cycle. The medication combination varies from patient to patient based on what the reproductive endocrinologist thinks will produce the desired results, Realistic estimates in 2013 range from $4,500 to $7,000, but can be a bit lower, or as much as $10,000 per cycle in certain situations.
5. Does My Health Insurance Cover Any of the Medications, Testing or Doctor’s Visits?
Very few states require health insurance plans to cover fertility treatment. Even if your fertility doctor does not accept health insurance your plan may cover some aspects of treatment. Ask the financial counselor at the fertility center and read your health insurance plan carefully.