How to Get the Baby You Want Without Breaking the Bank
You really, really, really want a baby. You and your partner have been having fertility issues and you’re consulting a fertility specialist.
Or you may be a same-sex couple who want to have a family, or you’re interested in becoming a single parent. If you’re ready to start fertility treatments, you’re probably thinking about the cost of IVF.
How big is the expense likely to be, and are there ways to control it?
The cost of IVF has stayed fairly stable over the last two decades. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) estimates the average cost of an IVF cycle in the USA to be $12,400, and it’s not clear if that includes fertility medications, which comprise as much as 30 percent of the cost of fertility treatment. Fertility drugs generally range from $4,000 to $7,000 per cycle but can be as much as $10,000 in some cases.
The cost of fertility medications has increased more than 80 percent in the last six years. Use of an egg donor and/or a gestational carrier due to medical conditions, age of the female partner, or being a male same-sex couple would be additional costs.
These are just ballpark figures for IVF costs, and your own expenses may be less or more depending on where you’re treated, the number of fertility clinics in your area (more clinics generally means lower pricing) and your medical history, as well as your partner’s medical history. Pretty confusing, and this may be difficult to plan for!
As you do research online you may see ads for all kinds of financing products, procedures and online pharmacies. How can you tell what’s legit? Are there ways to control your IVF costs? Following is some info to help you sort out areas like financing, fertility medications and treatments.
Consulting an Expert Can Save Time and Money
Going to a fertility specialist may ultimately save you both time and money in your quest to have a family. If you’re a woman under 35 years old and have been trying for a year without success, 35 and older and trying for six months, a fertility doctor can thoroughly assess your condition and advise you on the most effective treatment to get the family you want. By consulting an expert you can avoid losing time and money on treatments which are less likely to work if you have undiagnosed fertility issues.
Fertility Drugs: Can You Cut Costs?
In addition to the pharmacies at fertility clinics, online pharmacies have emerged in recent years as a source for fertility drugs. If you decide to deal with one of these, make sure it is located in the U.S. where medications are monitored and laws are enforced to protect the consumer (expiration dates, recalls, etc.), requires prescriptions from your doctor, has a licensed pharmacist available to answer questions and is a National Boards of Pharmacy Internet Verified Pharmacy to ensure product safety and reliability. Online ordering can be cost-effective and convenient.
However, read the fine print—there may be hidden costs. Your local pharmacy or big-box-store pharmacy probably does not carry many fertility drugs other than clomiphene citrate (Clomid or Serophene), especially the injectables. But you may want to check their lists of cheap generics for prenatal vitamins, estrogen, progesterone or other drugs your fertility doctor may prescribe. Coupons for medications are sometimes available from the manufacturers. Look for them online.
Minimal Stimulation IVF vs. Optimal IVF Success
Minimal stimulation IVF uses low doses of fertility medications to try and produce two to four eggs rather than the larger number produced with higher doses. Theoretically, the advantages of this approach include lower cost, fewer injections and reduced monitoring. This type of IVF may also be appealing to couples who do not want to freeze embryos for religious or ethical reasons. However, ASRM observes that minimal stimulation IVF has lower success rates than conventional IVF. Another protocol known as “natural cycle IVF” or “natural IVF” does not use fertility drugs and relies on retrieving a single egg. Its success rate is also lower than conventional IVF.
Does it make sense to try procedures with such a low rate of success? How many cycles will it take to get pregnant? If you’re interested in either of these protocols talk to your fertility specialist.
Financing Fertility Treatment
As your first step in financing treatment, investigate what your health insurance will cover. Very few states require health insurance plans to cover fertility treatment. But even if your fertility specialist does not accept health insurance your plan may cover some aspects of treatment such as diagnostic testing and office visits. Ask the financial counselor at the fertility center and read your health insurance plan carefully.
The following states mandate at least some level of coverage for fertility treatment, according to RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia.
If you have savings you may want to use some of them to finance treatment. This can include a regular savings account at your bank or savings and loan association or a health savings account (HSA) which is specifically set aside for healthcare expenses.
Another source of funding for your treatments is your existing line of credit. This includes your credit cards, home equity loan or line of credit, or an unsecured loan from your bank.
Many fertility clinics offer several types of financing, including medical financing loans and discounted treatment plans. Look for discounts, but make sure you read the fine print! Some of these plans require you to commit to multiple IVF cycles, while others give discounts on a per-cycle basis. Some financing plans include financing the cost of medication; most do not.