Coping with the Expense of Fertility Treatments
People often talk about how increasingly expensive it is to raise kids, but the cost of infertility treatment frontloads significant costs as well. If you are one of the 9% of men and 11% of women who experience infertility, your journey to parenthood can be even more costly. Fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization aren’t cheap, and living in the United States makes it more difficult to predict the financial investment infertility treatment might require. That doesn’t mean that you can’t still make a plan.
Before doing anything, call your insurance provider
It may seem counterintuitive to talk to an insurance provider before speaking to a fertility specialist, but in the United States, you need to know what fertility treatments and facilities, if any, are covered by your insurance. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t require insurance companies to cover fertility treatment. Bear in mind, fertility treatment coverage requirements vary state by state. You’ll need to ask your insurance provider what infertility treatment coverage they offer.
Some financial companies can help you communicate with your insurance company about this. It can be complicated to know exactly what an insurance company will provide, as infertility treatments vary. One company may cover all fertility treatments while another may only cover intrauterine insemination (IUI) and not other assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like in vitro fertilization (IVF). It depends.
Questions to ask your provider
If you speak to your insurance provider and they inform you that your insurance plan does cover fertility treatment options, these are some questions you might ask:
- How many initial consultations are covered?
- Does my insurance cover fertility testing for women?
- Does my insurance cover fertility medications. If so, which ones?
- What types of fertility treatment options are covered?
- If I want to pursue IVF treatment, is there a waiting period? Would I be required to try another type of infertility treatment such as IUI first?
- Do I have a cap on my coverage in terms of either dollar amount, cycle amount, or a lifetime limit?
Insurance coverage and fertility treatment requirements can vary state by state. Nineteen states require some fertility coverage on insurance plans: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. If you do not live in one of the states, your insurance provider is not required to cover infertility treatments.
Assess potential costs and make a financial plan
Fertility treatment costs differ based on region. Depending on where you live and your fertility treatment clinic, IVF treatment can cost between $15,000 and $23,000 per cycle on average. This does not include the additional costs of medication and other ART support products such as MIRA™. If you have to take time off from work, the price could go up even further, as you have to consider a budget to make up for lost wages.
Make a financial Plan
Once you know more about your insurance coverage and potential costs, it’s time to make a financial plan. This plan will help you set realistic goals and expectations about future treatments you hope to pursue. Most people who pursue fertility treatment options typically go through several cycles before they achieve a successful pregnancy. You’ll want to factor in the cost of multiple rounds of treatment when weighing the cost of each of your fertility treatment options and plan your budget accordingly. During your initial consultation with clinics, you should ask for an itemized quote breaking down the expected cost of each piece of your personalized treatment protocol.
Decide how you’ll pay for fertility treatment
When you’re ready to decide how you’ll pay for infertility treatments, you have several options to consider. Take time to weigh these financial possibilities – many people rush into a decision that is unnecessarily costly, requiring them to take on debt they aren’t prepared to carry.
Many financial institutions will work with you if you decide to take out a loan for infertility treatments. As you consider financing your infertility treatment, think about what type of debt you’re willing to take on and how much you can afford.
Maybe you have friends or family members who want to support you on your fertility journey. Setting up a crowdfunding page may be a great way to give them the opportunity to help.
If you live in a state with state-mandated coverage for infertility, it’s likely that the costs for services like IVF treatment are covered by your insurance.
Apply for grants
Grants are available for people under specific circumstances based on income, location, and cause of infertility.
Clinical trial participation
Clinical trials for infertility range from those evaluating the impacts of hormone medication on the ovaries to the effectiveness of stress management during an IVF treatment cycle.
Fertility clinic lotteries
Some fertility treatment clinics offer lotteries to patients, giving treatment at discounted rates. People from around the world travel to the United States to access high quality fertility treatment at a more affordable rate.
Shared risk programs
These programs offer several cycles of fertility treatment to qualifying patients at a flat rate, and they give you your money back if you do not have a successful pregnancy. However, if you don’t end up needing all of the cycles you’ve paid for, you won’t be refunded.
Negotiate with your clinic
Most fertility treatment facilities offer payment plans for treatment. Be sure to work out a plan that includes extra costs you may incur during treatment, including fees for medication or complementary treatments.
Allow space for taking breaks in treatment
As you prepare for infertility treatment, consider that at some point on your fertility journey, you may need to take a break. People often pause infertility treatment for financial reasons such as insurance coverage parameters or to save up for another cycle of IVF treatment. You may also choose to pause treatment for reasons related to the physical or emotional toll that infertility treatments can take on your health.
The financial burden of fertility treatments is one of the biggest reasons for treatment drop out, but that doesn’t have to be the case. With careful planning, a realistic budget, and support from loved ones, you can make your family goals a reality.