Many couples trying to start (or expand) their family are warned of the upfront costs of adding children to their home — from diapers and cribs to college savings. But couples that face difficulty conceiving may face other costs, such as the expense of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Understanding the cost of fertility treatments can be difficult, simply because there are so many factors that impact the final bill. Read on for more about the fertility treatment expenses, and ways health insurance coverage can impact your family’s budget.
What is IVF treatment?
Many couples who find it difficult to get pregnant turn to In Vitro Fertilization as a way to conceive a child. Commonly shortened to IVF, the basics of this 30-year-old fertility treatment involve retrieving a woman’s eggs from her ovaries and pairing them with a sperm sample. According to the American Pregnancy Association, these two components are then combined in a laboratory, and the resulting embryos are planted in a woman’s uterus. If IVF is successful, the embryos will embed themselves into the uterus and develop; within a few weeks, the couple will be well on their way to becoming parents.
While the bare-bones description of IVF seems pretty simple, there’s a reason why this fertility treatment is known for its price tag: the process consists of multiple steps that require multiple doctor’s visits, fertility medications, surgical procedures, and laboratory work.
- Step 1: Boosting Egg Production
A reproductive specialist will determine if you are a candidate for IVF, and the best course of action moving forward. During this time, you will be prescribed fertility medications that help stimulate egg production and boost hormone levels. You’ll also undergo various tests to determine how your body response.
- Step 2: Egg and Sperm Retrieval
After a doctor determines the best time for collecting eggs from your ovaries based on your hormone levels, you’ll undergo minor surgery. Sperm will also be collected, whether from a partner or a donor.
- Step 3: Insemination
Laboratory specialists will combine the sperm and eggs — what’s called “insemination.” This process allows the eggs to be fertilized, where they can grow into embryos.
- Step 4: Embryo Transfer
Several days after the eggs are retrieved and fertilized, embryos are then planted in the uterus, where they may (or may not) implant. If the embryos implant and develop, the IVF cycle is considered a success, and soon after, a pregnancy test should give a positive result.
Who is an IVF candidate?
Many couples who struggle with conceiving naturally look to IVF. While only a doctor or fertility specialist can determine if IVF is the best course of action for infertility, some patients may be better suited than others. IVF is commonly utilized for individuals or couples who:
- Have damaged, blocked, or removed fallopian tubes
- Have a decreased sperm count, or sperm with mobility issues or abnormalities
- Have irregular ovulation
- Have endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or other uterine and ovarian conditions
- Genetic disorders that a couple is trying to prevent
- Have had cancer, a previous reproductive sterilization, ovarian failure, or other health condition that makes it difficult to get pregnant
- Unexplained infertility issues
Knowing what goes into the IVF process is just as important as understanding how to pay for it. Before you get bogged down by the details, know that in some cases, cheap IVF treatments are possible. For some individuals, free IVF treatments are a possibility thanks to certain organizations. And, lowering IVF costs with egg donation or frozen embryos is also a possibility.
How Much Does IVF Cost?
In Vitro Fertilization has been used to help women get pregnant since it was first introduced as an option in the late 1970s. But unlike many medical procedures, the cost has remained relatively high despite the many years of practice and success.
What does IVF cost?
IVF is known for its hefty cost, which can vary greatly throughout the country. While the national average is $12,000 per round prior to medication costs, IVF costs in California, for example, can surpass IVF costs in New York. Because every fertility treatment case is different, how much you pay greatly depends on how you approach the process of getting pregnant.
Understanding IVF Costs For One Cycle
If you’re newly exploring IVF, it can be hard to hear that the high cost of fertility treatments isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get pregnant right away. In fact, IVF costs are broken down by cycle — also known as the number of attempts to conceive. It’s common for IVF to be costly simply because it may take multiple cycles to get pregnant. IVF costs in New York, for example, can easily reach $13,000 per cycle, while, IVF costs in California can be as high as $15,000 or more per cycle. With the additional cost of IVF medications, this number can increase.
Factor in the Cost of IVF Medications
While many clinics are willing to create a “bundle” price for fertility treatments such as IVF, others do not include the cost of IVF medications. When it comes to factoring in this additional expense — a necessity for the IVF process — you should expect between $3,000 and $5,000 in medication costs. Depending on specific medications you may need, and how many cycles of IVF you choose to do, this cost can vary. In many cases, it’s possible to “shop around” with different pharmacies to determine the best prices considering you will likely be paying out of pocket for the cost of IVF medications. Hospital or clinic pharmacies are convenient, but they may not always offer the best cost-savings. It’s also possible to help lower this expense through prescription discount programs, or with the help of financial assistance provided by your fertility treatment center or clinic.
How Much Does IVF Cost For Twins?
Because the ins and outs of IVF can be confusing, expensive, and unexpected, some families wonder about bringing home multiple babies through one period of IVF treatment. You may be wondering “How much does IVF cost for twins?” because you’re concerned about the additional cost of unexpectedly carrying multiples or trying to reduce IVF costs. In most cases, IVF and fertility clinics do not charge “extra” for multiple children, and that’s because there’s no guarantee that twins are a viable option. While IVF does increase the likelihood of multiples since several embryos are implanted at the same time, doctors have no way of guaranteeing or filling requests for twins. For this reason, IVF does not suddenly cost more if you happen to conceive twins (or triplets). Even if twins are your goal, you can expect IVF costs for twins to be the same as a single baby — the cost of one IVF cycle.
Special Scenarios That Can Impact IVF Costs
Only you and your reproductive specialist can determine the best ways to utilize IVF treatments. Sometimes, that means using donor eggs or sperm, or with the help of a surrogate.
IVF Cost With Donor Eggs
In some fertility cases, it is necessary to use donor eggs. Depending on the region and clinic, this can either decrease or increase the bill for IVF treatment. Some IVF clinics claim that IVF costs with donor eggs can be dropped by up to 50 percent, partially because of the reduced medication cost and the fact that donor eggs remove the need for egg retrieval. But, how the eggs are collected and stored can make a cost difference. IVF costs with egg donation can be impacted based the clinic or donor egg bank you select.
IVF Cost With Frozen Embryos
Choosing to undergo an IVF cycle utilizing frozen embryos can reduce the IVF price tag. This is because multiple eggs are fertilized at one time, developing into embryos that can either be implanted or frozen for later use. IVF costs with frozen embryos are reduced because there is no need to retrieve more eggs, speeding up the IVF process and cutting out parts of a complete cycle. The average IVF cost with frozen embryos is about $3,000.
IVF Cost With a Surrogate
Contrary to popular believe, utilizing a surrogate is common among more people than just celebrities. Surrogates allow women who are unable to carry a baby to still have children. Though, the IVF cost with a surrogate can go far beyond other kinds of fertility treatments. Because of surrogate fees on top of the cost of IVF medications, treatment and doctor’s appointments, going this route can range anywhere from $60,000 to well over $100,000.
IVF Cost With PGD
PGD, short for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, is a form of testing done on embryos created during the IVF process to ensure there are no genetic abnormalities. PGD testing is done before embryos are transferred to the uterus, allowing doctors to select the healthiest embryos possible. Because this is an additional service, the IVF cost with PDG can increase. Some clinics will include this cost in your total cycle price, while others charge separately. This testing can range anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000.
Does My Insurance Cover IVF?
Seeing the upfront cost for IVF — whether it is one round or many — can be shocking. And for that reason, you may be wondering if your insurance provider will help with the cost of fertility treatments, whether partially or fully. Like most medical procedures, whether your health insurance coverage extends to IVF depends on your provider, the state you reside in, and other factors.
IVF and Insurance Coverage
Unfortunately, in most cases, insurance providers offer minimal to no health insurance coverage for IVF procedures. Many families pay the full amount out-of-pocket because in most states, insurance providers are not required to help with fertility treatment costs.
Fortunately for some IVF recipients, there are 15 states that mandate insurance assistance with fertility treatments:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Living in one of these 15 states does not mean your automatically qualify for free IVF treatment, as legislation in each state requiring some kind of coverage varies. For example, IVF costs in California can be reduced for some based on laws that require insurance providers to help with infertility tests, surgery, medications, and other procedures (though California does not require coverage specifically for IVF). Compare that to New York, where insurance companies are not required to cover IVF costs but will help with the costs of diagnosing infertility for people between the ages of 21 and 44.
Even if you do not live in one of these states, it is still important to contact your insurance provider to see what fertility treatment costs they cover. While some providers will not offer any health insurance coverage for IVF, others may help with the cost if IVF medications after you meet your deductible or prescription payment requirements.
IVF Cost With TRICARE Military Insurance
While military health benefits through TRICARE cover many procedures, this form of insurance generally does not pay for fertility treatments. IVF costs with TRICARE are not covered, though military insurance benefits may help with expenses related to diagnosing infertility. While IVF costs are paid out-of-pocket for most military families, TRICARE does offer some benefits for servicewomen who were injured in active duty. In some special scenarios, TRICARE health insurance coverage will help with the cost of egg and sperm retrieval, IVF and embryo storage.
Understanding IVF Costs With NHS
If you’re not in the U.S., you may have different options when it comes to paying for IVF and fertility treatments with the assistance of insurance. Unlike the United States, where insurance is primarily provided through employers and comes with differing benefits, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) does provide some IVF coverage options. IVF costs with NHS coverage can be drastically reduced if you qualify. In the UK, IVF is only offered to patients who meet particular requirements:
- You must be under the age of 40
- You must have been trying to get pregnant for at least two years
- You must have had 12 failed cycles of artificial insemination
You may also be required to meet certain health criteria, such as not having previous children, having a healthy body weight, and being a non-smoker.
If you meet these eligibility requirements, the NHS may cover up to three rounds of IVF before you may be required to seek private, out-of-pocket fertility treatments.
Starting IVF Treatment
Like any medical procedure, the amount of time it takes to undergo IVF can vary from person to person. On average, one round of IVF treatment takes between four and eight weeks. This includes the entire cycle, from initial doctor’s consultations to blood work and testing, taking fertility medications, and egg retrieval and embryo implantation. It is important that your reproductive specialist explain your individual timeline and health plan before you begin the process with your selected clinic, and update that timeline throughout treatment based on how your body reacts.
According to research by the American Pregnancy Association, the typical success rate for IVF, determined by the number of babies born to women who utilized IVF, is based on age:
- Women under 35 have a 41-43% success rate
- Women ages 35 to 37 have a 33-36% success rate
- Women ages 38 to 40 have a 23-27% success rate
- Women over 40 have a 13-18% success rate
While a clinic may share their success rate, it’s important to know that a success rate is not a guarantee, and that each individual’s success rate for IVF varies based on their particular health situation.
Where can I find an IVF clinic?
IVF is a specialized procedure that requires experienced and knowledgeable doctors, meaning you can’t just start IVF treatment with your regular Obstetrician/Gynecologist. While your primary OBGYN or reproductive health doctor may recommend you to a particular clinic or specialist, you may still want to look around and consider all your clinic options. Just like with any other form of medical treatment, it is important that you select a reputable, experienced, and trustworthy IVF clinic that also caters to your needs and makes you feel comfortable throughout the process. If you are choosing to begin the IVF process with a surrogate, you may also want to consider those needs into the location you choose.
First, it’s important to know that there are several kinds of fertility and IVF clinics based on your region, needs and preferences:
- Small practices with few specialists or doctors
- Solo practices, where you will meet with one doctor who owns and operates the clinic
- Larger clinics with a staff of doctors and specialists
- Hospital clinics
- University clinics
Where you live may determine what resources are available to you. But, you should also consider exploring the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) resources on fertility clinics and centers. This information gives you access to a federal database of fertility clinics, their success rates, and other information that can help you narrow down offices that may fit your needs.
You may also consider checking with your insurance provider to determine if you have health insurance coverage at certain clinics or fertility treatment centers. Just like doctor’s offices or hospitals, affordable IVF treatment may be dependent upon your insurance provider’s network and other factors, such as your plan or deductible.
Overall, it is important that you choose a reputable center with a high success rate. The fertility clinic or IVF center that you choose should have doctors certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Don’t be afraid to have consultations with more than one clinic, and know that providers there should be able to discuss the cost of IVF medications and treatment, the procedures, and a general plan of action for your specific fertility case.
Get Help: IVF Cost Financing Options
Whether you’re about to start your first round of IVF or have undergone the procedure before, figuring out how to pay for the cost of your new family can be stressful. If you’ve been looking for cheap IVF treatment, or even free IVF treatment, know that there are options out there.
Many clinics offer payment assistance programs that help with the cost of each cycle of IVF, or with the cost of IVF medications. Because each clinic determines what kind of assistance they offer, it is important to meet with several clinics during your selection process and determine what kind of financing or aid they offer.
Because IVF is an emotionally, physically and financially difficult process, some clinics understand that the cost of fertility treatments that don’t work can feel like a failed investment. For this reason, some IVF and reproductive clinics offer “refund” programs that reimburse some of the cost in situations where a pregnancy hasn’t occurred after several rounds of IVF treatment. In these cases, couples or individuals may pay an upfront fee, and receive a portion back after a certain number of unsuccessful IVF cycles. While this doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed free IVF treatment if it doesn’t work, there is relief in knowing that you can try for a baby without draining your life savings.
It’s also a smart idea to look for fertility treatment cost assistance outside of clinics. Many organizations offer grants or scholarships — akin to college — that help with the cost of IVF. In some cases, these can lead to affordable IVF treatments, or in rare cases, free IVF treatment.