If you’re trying to conceive and have just been told that you need in vitro fertilization (IVF), chances are you are concerned about IVF costs. After all, IVF costs in the U.S. usually run between $12,000 and $15,000 dollars, which may not include the cost of medications or special procedures. Having a baby is priceless, but unfortunately most of us do have to juggle priorities and make a realistic plan to pay for the treatment.
Naturally, many questions come to mind. After spending that much, what are the chances that you will succeed? If you don’t get pregnant after your first IVF cycle, how many more IVF cycles might you need till you bring home a baby, and at what financial, emotional, and physical cost? All these questions can seem overwhelming as you dive into the black box of IVF costs. Searching the Internet for an answer? Many articles pop up, but few will tell you how to figure out the direct link between your chance of IVF success and how to pay for IVF.
Let’s explore some advice on how to pay for IVF costs – and especially, how to factor in your chance of IVF success to make smarter IVF financial decisions.
- check your insurance coverage for IVF costs
- explore fertility clinic discount and loan programs
- consider your chance of IVF success when you budget for IVF costs
- investigate fertility drug discounts
- give up on insurance options
- forget your friends and family
- overlook help from non-profit organizations
- forget to ask your doctor which IVF costs are included in your plan
Fifteen states mandate that health carriers offer plans that either cover or offer to cover some infertility treatments. The states include: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia. Three of these states, California, Louisiana, and New York, require coverage for infertility but specifically exclude IVF insurance coverage.
Because plans within states vary widely, ask for a written explanation of what exactly is covered in your plan. Be aware that even if you live in a mandated state, you still may not be covered. For instance, some states exempt small business employers or include other limits, such as lifetime caps on coverage, exclusion of IVF, or coverage specifically for heterosexual married couples, excluding single women and same-sex couples.
But even in non-mandated states, your employer may still offer infertility insurance. Since employers may not advertise this benefit, check with the InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc. (INCIID) for a list of employers who are infertility and adoption-friendly. You may have to pay extra for this coverage and must elect to enroll in an infertility treatment-covered plan either at the time of your hire or annually when you re-enroll for your benefits.
Some fertility clinics offer packages of multiple IVF cycles for a reduced price per cycle, sometimes including partial or full refunds if the treatment isn’t successful. At the Attain Fertility Network, a national network of fertility clinics, for example, the average cost of a refund plan for up to three fresh and three frozen cycles, using your own eggs, is $23,400, compared to the average a la carte cost of $38,500, or a discount of 40%, according to the website in November.
Clinics can also partner with finance companies that can offer loans for IVF treatment. And some clinics offer special discounts for patients with great financial need and/or those in public service professions. Check if the fertility clinics you are considering offer any of these plans.
Knowing your chances of IVF success can help you plan better for your IVF costs. For example, if your chance of IVF success for a first cycle is high, you may be better off buying a single IVF cycle, rather than a three-cycle package. But if your chances are lower, a multicycle package might make better sense. Try the free, online IVF Cost Calculator to determine which IVF package is best for you depending on your chance of IVF success, determined either by your doctor’s assessment, your age (based on national average IVF success rates of others your age), or by IVF Prediction Tests, personalized to your medical profile.
Fertility drugs can contribute to 30% or more of IVF costs. Some large pharmaceutical providers of ovulation medications for infertility patients offer discount programs on their fertility drugs, especially for patients without insurance or those whose insurance doesn’t cover fertility drugs. Ferring Pharmaceuticals and EMD Serono provide programs to help all types of patients afford fertility drugs. Do some research for programs to help with paying for medications associated with IVF.
Even if your insurance does not cover IVF costs or infertility treatment, it still may provide coverage for certain procedures (e.g. ultrasounds or medications) that are not specific to infertility. Ask your provider for a list of procedures with their procedure codes (called CPT codes) that they submit to your insurance company to receive payment. Then, ask your insurance company for a determination, in writing, of the procedures they cover.
If your current plan does not cover infertility treatment, your employer might be open to adding coverage at the next enrollment period. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and Fertility Within Reach have advice on their websites to guide in your discussion with your HR Department.
Crowdsourcing is becoming an increasingly common way to raise funds for any project, including paying for IVF costs. Many couples ask their friends through Twitter and Facebook requests. Others turn to a larger circle of potential donors through crowdsourcing sites, such as GiveForward.com and Gofundme.com. Another option: The new fertility phone app, Glow, which helps women track ovulation cycles, also enables couples to contribute to a common fund to help each other pay for fertility treatment.
Some non-profit organizations provide grants to eligible infertility patients to pay for some or all of their IVF costs. All of these grants require applicants to demonstrate financial need as defined by the grant program. Grant programs can be national or regional in scope. Some regional grant programs may limit applicants to their geographic regions or have other requirements, so be sure to review grant application requirements carefully. According to Fertility within Reach, a non-profit organization, some infertility grant programs include the Angels of Hope Foundation (Illinois), Baby Quest Foundation (National), The Cade Foundation (National), Sparkles of Life (Texas), INCIID IVF Scholarships (National), the Madeleine Gordon Gift of Life Foundation (Cincinnati, OH), Pay it Forward Foundation (National), and the Sharing Hope Financial Assistance Program (National). Parenthood 4Me is another non-profit that offers grant programs, as well as Baby Quest.
Before you start an IVF cycle, ask your doctor which IVF services are included in your treatment plan and which services are additional. For instance, you may be quoted a cost per ultrasound, but make sure to ask how many ultrasounds are typically needed. Ask for a written estimate of costs, including medications or ancillary services not performed by your doctor. Get a breakdown of costs that are covered by your insurance and those that are your responsibility. Find out whether you have to prepay upfront, or if you can pay in installments.
Even if IVF costs seem daunting at first, be assured you have many options to help you pay for your fertility treatment. You may be lucky and have insurance coverage for IVF costs. But even if not, you can still find other ways to pay for IVF costs. Of course, knowing your chance of IVF success will help you figure out your best financial options.