IVF treatment is so important for those who cannot conceive naturally. Unfortunately, the cost of a treatment can be astronomical, making it incredibly difficult for people who are looking to add a little bundle of joy to their family. Elizabeth Katkin, author of CONCEIVABILITY, shares 5 tips to help you find more affordable infertility treatment.
The stark reality is that in America, overcoming infertility is only for the rich, and the lucky few who live in Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or one of the other few states that require insurers to cover IVF to some extent. In a country where one-third of the population has only $1,000 or more saved for emergencies, the high costs of IUI, IVF, and other fertility advances clearly leave many in need. Those who can afford expert advice, IVF at the best clinics, expensive egg donors if need be, the fees charged by legitimate agencies, compensation for surrogates if necessary, and legal fees, are much more likely to have the baby they dream of than those who cannot.
Given this uneven and complicated landscape, what is a woman or couple confronting infertility or recurrent miscarriage to do? Or a gay couple or single woman who desires to have a child? As things stand now, in the absence of deep resources, the best people can do is to try to game the system:
- Get as many tests covered by insurance as possible. Even in states without mandated fertility coverage, basic diagnostic procedures, such as blood tests and ultrasounds, which can shed a great deal of light on fertility problems, are often covered.
- Shop around for fertility drugs. When living in London, I ordered my IVF medicines (after a cycle that was completely funded by the National Health Service) from a group called the International Pharmacy Organisation, which delivered them directly to me at prices far lower than those offered by my New York clinic. Some Americans save money by ordering their medications online either domestically or looking to countries such as Canada, Israel, or the United Kingdom.
- Look for a job with a company that covers infertility treatment. Seriously, for some, this is the answer. Go work for Spotify, Bank of America, Discovery Communications, Time Warner, Chanel, Intel, Apple, Facebook, Perkins Coie, Zappos, and a host of other companies that provide excellent fertility care. Job switching for fertility benefits has become common enough to spark web forums, such as “Jobs With Infertility Coverage”; coverage in mainstream media like Fortune; and a shout-out in FertilityIQ, a company whose mission is to help patients navigate the infertility treatment maze. Although just over a quarter of employers in America provide infertility coverage, the number is growing, led in large part by technology companies that are pouring more money into fertility benefitsas an effort to attract and retain talent while creating a work environment where parents and aspiring parents can thrive. Recognizing that “the impact [fertility] benefit[s] can have on an employee’s life is immeasurable,” Southwest Airlines now offers partial coverage to its team members, more than one hundred of whom use the benefit annually.
- Talk to doctors about protocols that maximize the return on dollars spent. Patients may wish to consider financial considerations in shaping their treatment plan. Mini IVF, for example, which requires the purchase of far fewer drugs as well as lower cycle costs, may be an appropriate course to pursue for many women. Given the low success rates of IUI, you should raise the question of skipping the usual three cycles of IUI before moving on to IVF, potentially saving time and money in the process. In the same vein, although PGS may seem to add to the costs of IVF, it could potentially eliminate the need for follow-on cycles.
- Consider traveling to lower-cost places. Jenny went to Spain; Sandra went to Mexico; I went to Russia. Articles abound of couples traveling to Israel, India, Thailand, and, more recently, Argentina and Barbados. Fertility tourism, or reprotravel, may offer a viable solution for those with the time, ability, and appetite for travel. Some of these countries offer treatment at lower costs than the price of the drugs in the United States, while still maintaining high success rates. A cycle of IVF costs on average $6,000 in Spain, $7,800 in Mexico, $3,300 in India, and $3,000 in Russia, as opposed to $12,000 to $25,000 in the United States.
Need help budgeting for treatments? We’ve rounded up some helpful tips.
Excerpted from Conceivability by Elizabeth Katkin. Copyright © 2018 by Elizabeth Katkin. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.