In Navigating IVF, IVF Steph takes us on her journey through the wilds of fertility treatment.
Let’s talk about cost, ba-by!
One of the things that I found when I started looking into IVF is that the cost is confusing and exists in this weird gray area. And you’ll read some of the snarkiest crap ever about it. “If you can’t pay for IVF, you can’t pay for a child!” Really? I forgot the part where babies come out requiring you to throw thousands of dollars into their care all at once. Sure, you have a medical bill (but insurance should cover a large chunk of that) and diapers (but you don’t buy a year’s worth all at once) and so on, but those costs trickle in a little at a time. The cost of IVF is comparable to my car, which I did not pay for in one fell swoop (sorry, Dave Ramsey) but instead was able to finance at reasonable rates over a period of several years. That’s harder to come by for IVF.
So let’s talk about my experience with IVF and money. So much money.
I initially calculated the amount based on a price sheet my clinic used and ballparked about $10,000. In fact, a lot of articles will also place the cost here, but I found that IVF has a much higher price tag for most people. Be aware that this covers US costs only. In other countries, your mileage will probably vary.
We wound up initially paying $18,000. This was a package deal that covered the egg retrieval, creation of embryos, and transfer of embryos. It also guaranteed three cycles (each cycle includes all of these things) with a live birth plus 30 days or most of your money back. Package deals also cover things I didn’t know we might need — like ICSI (where they manually place a sperm inside the egg) or assisted hatching (where part of the shell of the embryo is made weaker to help with implantation) — which may suddenly make you have to pay more.
Not doing a package — which it seems most clinics have — is a gamble.
You might get lucky and save money, or everything might go to hell. We might have saved about $1,500 by not. While $1,500 isn’t chump change, it’s also not so much money that I’m regretting having done the package. Especially given that we have that guarantee. It was worth my peace of mind that if something goes wrong, we either have a chance to have another baby or we can recoup (some) of the expenses. You may be less paranoid than I am, in which case, a non-package deal might work well for you.
Remember how I added that codicil about some of the costs up there? The $18,000 wasn’t all of the money by any means. For instance, it did not cover our pre-IVF screenings. We knew going into the new year that we would probably do this, so we had them done at the end of December when we’d hit our deductible. It allowed us to get some insurance coverage for this, which helped — I believe the amount billed was about $350.
Once we started the process, I had to have a sonohysterogram, where saline was put into my uterus to check out the condition of the uterus/ensure no polyps or other things existed. There was also a trial transfer at the same time. This was not covered in the $18,000. I haven’t received the bill for it yet, but I assume it will be at least $1000 if not more. Infertility isn’t cheap.
Our $18,000 also didn’t cover monitoring costs. We did this at our normal clinic, which probably saved a little money, but it still was a little over $200 every time someone came near me with the internal ultrasound — and I think there were three leading up to the transfer. There’s also about $100 extra for each blood draw, and I want to say that there were also three of these.
Medications are another fun cost of IVF.
I used Follistim (about $1,100 for one cycle), Menopur (about $7,000 for the cycle, although I admittedly didn’t have to use all of it), Pregnyl (about $100 for one shot), Ganirelix (around $250 per syringe — I only used one, I think), Lupron ($1,200), an oral steroid ($32), antibiotic ($32), another antibiotic ($25), Estradiol ($6) and Valium ($2). That’s a LOT of money, right? I was lucky in that insurance wound up covering a significant amount of these, but many people don’t receive that.
There are different medications given to other people, too — my experience is not everyone’s. I am told that these can often be pieced out to different pharmacies to find the ones that have the lowest prices. Also, my clinic had a deal on Menopur, which reduces the price pretty significantly if you need it. If you’re starting IVF and lacking coverage, check around.
We had the ability to get a line of credit to cover this, had some friends that helped through a GoFundMe (thank you all SO much), had the insanely great luck with med coverage, and were in a financial place where I could dedicate some pre-tax cash to a health savings account to make some payments on the other services. It was still scary to pull the trigger on that much money. It also upsets me that you have to be in a pretty great financial situation to be able even to consider this. I firmly believe that more insurance companies should have coverage for fertility options. Yes, I know the arguments against this. I still think it should happen.
The US has on and off struggled with declining birth rates, and trends are moving towards women delaying the birth of their first child. The average of that is somewhere around 26. Older first-time mothers may equal an increase in fertility issues — something that 1 in 8 couples already face. In data collected from Iowa and Massachusetts, infertility treatments including IVF increased healthcare costs by around $4-$20 per person per year. That’s not that much money. When I was talking to other people that had done IVF, a few told me that they used inheritances. Someone should not have to die so infertile couples can have babies.
I hope this helped to demystify the costs of IVF a little.
When going into it, I cannot emphasize enough that you should ask about prices, check with your insurance (but be aware that you may get incorrect information — my clinic was told that they would be reimbursed up to $10,000 for me, and then my insurance company declined everything and informed me that the service was uncovered), shop around for meds, and just try to keep your head up. If it seems insurmountable (or is insurmountable), know that some organizations provide grants for IVF, although typically not if you’ve had any other children. I don’t want to give a list since those don’t always age well, but if you google “IVF grants,” you should find a few.