How the Heck Can I Afford Fertility Treatment?

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It’s no secret that fertility treatments are pricey—with or without insurance coverage, there are substantial costs to factor in. For example, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the cost of IVF alone averages $12,400 per cycle, and out of pocket costs for fertility medication can cost between $3,000 to 6,000 per cycle.

“Even with coverage, insurance plans always have fees that patients will be responsible for paying—some of which can be in the thousands,” says Miriam Olivera, Patient Finance Manager of Extend Fertility in New York City. So, yeah…that’s kind of a big deal, and it’s important to get clear on all costs involved.

Of course, having a baby is a priceless experience, but you also don’t want to leave yourself financially devastated in the process. Plus, even the best averages and estimates won’t tell you how much you’ll end up paying, since it all depends on your unique fertility situation, how many tries it takes and so much more.

“Unlike most things we pay substantial costs for, fertility treatment can be unnerving, as there is no true way to guarantee the outcome,” says Olivera. “Despite doctors setting realistic expectations, many patients have a ‘one-and-done’ perspective on IVF treatment. The outcome of a cycle relies on the patient’s biological response to the treatment more than statistics or the educated predictions of a physician. It’s an expensive process both emotionally and financially.”

Is your head spinning yet?

Thankfully, there are ways to pay for IVF costs, fertility medication costs and other fertility treatment costs that don’t involve taking out a second mortgage or eating only Ramen noodles for the next 30 years. Here are some (totally doable!) ways to save money on fertility treatments.

Check your health insurance plan

From the start, you should understand what your health insurance plan covers and what it doesn’t. We hate to break it to you, but the information might not be super easy to spot on the company’s website. Plus, it’s complicated (it’s not just you!). Sometimes, it might even feel like they’re trying to make it difficult for you to figure out.

Insurance is cryptic overall, but especially when it comes to infertility treatment.

Miriam Olivera, Patient Finance Manager at Extend Fertility

“Many plans do not cover preservation, which has become a common choice for women who wish to delay conception due to career or life circumstances,” says Olivera. “Other insurance policies carry stringent criteria which may force a patient to do a number of IUIs or continue to attempt conception naturally, despite a doctor’s advice.” Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

“It can be frustrating for the patient and us as advisors to relay this kind of information. Additionally, it sets aside populations such as the LGBTQ+ community and singles alike who usually cannot demonstrate infertility as per the guidelines of an insurance plan,” says Olivera.

Stipulations like that can really limit the coverage certain people can get. With LGBTQ+ fertility patients, for example, they may not need to have been “trying” for a certain period of time to need or want fertility treatments.

Our recommendation? Definitely give your insurance company a call and talk to a specialist who can talk you through the ins and outs of how your plan handles fertility treatments. Be “annoying.” Ask for the manager. This is your fertility on the line, and it’s literally their job to help you.

You may also reach out to your company’s human resources department for info, if your health plan is through work. For example, you may need a referral from your primary care physician or authorization from your insurance company before going forward with IVF or other treatments.

Set aside some time to get the skinny on which parts of treatment will be covered by your insurance and which aren’t. Then, you can better arm yourself with a plan and/or a budget for out-of-pocket costs, which could be high.

When clarifying out-of-pocket expenses, make sure your insurer fully explains all copays, deductibles, and coinsurance you might be responsible for, as well as any treatment lifetime maximums or cycle limitations. Don’t forget to also ask about any authorization requirements upfront. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting denied coverage for an expensive (but necessary) medication right when you need it because you don’t have the required prior authorizations.

All of these details can often be buried in the fine print, but they can be super important. And keep in mind, even if your insurer “fully covers” a service, they only cover costs of what they consider a “reasonable and customary” amount for that service…not necessarily what your clinic charges.

“Transparency is crucial in the world of fertility. It is important that patients approach their treatment options with an understanding that there will always be some type of costs that they will be dealing with—with or without coverage. It is of equal importance that the fertility center they choose guides them through the financial side from beginning to end,” Miriam says.

Consider clinics carefully

And speaking of fertility clinics…you don’t have to go with the first clinic you see or the one your BFF recommends. In fact, you should probably research a few to decide which is the right fit for you. Check out their websites and schedule a visit to scope each of them out. Go ahead and ask about pricing to see what information is available—there may be some surprising policies or hidden costs you might not have factored in. “Some fertility centers advertise pricing without disclosing the additional fees that may or may not come up,” says Olivera. “This can have a huge (and negative) impact on a patient, especially if the fees are not quoted to the patient from the very beginning.”

Unfortunately, you might not always get clear answers about pricing, since there are many variables, and some clinics simply aren’t transparent about costs. That’s where Extend Fertility is different. Its pricing for egg freezing, embryo freezing and IVF is available right on its website. (Score!)

Pro tip: talk to your clinic about what they bill services for, so you’ll know what you’ll be on the hook for if your insurer doesn’t fully cover something. And make sure that—whether you’re psyched about their treatment costs or not—whatever clinic you go with is incredibly well-versed in all things insurance and financing. Extend, for example, has awesome relationships with several loan companies and other organizations that may be able to help you out.

Apply for Grants

Did you know there are tons of nonprofits that offer grants to help fray fertility treatment costs for some people? And did you know that you could actually qualify for one?

Check out our Find a Grant Tool—we’ve got over 100 different funding opportunities that might work for you (the largest database there is, in fact! *brushes off shoulder*). Apply for one or more, and you might earn money to help you pay for your treatments or medication.

Ask about generics and alternatives

As treatments and medications come up, you can ask your doctor about alternatives and generics. For example, mini-IVF is a process that uses lower-dose or less potent medications than conventional IVF, so it could cost less. But definitely consider options like this carefully, as mini-IVF has a lower success rate than usual IVF.

“Generic fertility medications are tricky because there are only a few companies who make the hormone medications that are used for egg freezing and IVF,” says Olivera. “There are no ‘generic’ versions unfortunately [for those]. But at Extend Fertility we work closely with a few specialized pharmacies and have negotiated lower pricing for our patients.”

Watch out for hidden costs

Ask about extras too. Remember: It’s not just the major things like the IVF or IUI procedures themselves that you’ll be billed for. There may be a lot of little charges along the way.

“Fertility centers often focus on the main cycle fees and fail to disclose additional costs such as storage, medication and anesthesia which is why Extend Fertility prides itself on transparency,” says Olivera. “Some of the aforementioned fees are paid after treatment is complete and medication is paid to pharmacies, so some centers tend to leave them out.”

Consider payment plans and options wisely

Once you’ve gone through insurance and potential grants, you’ll likely have a balance you need to pay, and since we’re not all made of money, there are options if you need some time to pay it off.

Olivera says, “In hopes of providing patients with choices and resources, Extend has partnerships with several major treatment financing companies. While the choice is always the patient, I encourage them to only go with what they know is affordable for their cost of living. For patients with insurance, our finance team will verify coverage, educate the patient and prepare them for what to expect from soup to nuts as well as obtain treatment/medication authorization for the patient as required. The infertility process can be stressful. Our goal is to serve as a support system for the patient in hopes of alleviating as much stress as possible from a financial perspective.”

In Olivera’s words, “fertility treatment can be costly, but building a family shouldn’t be burdened by price tags. With proper financial planning and a supportive fertility center, the possibilities are endless.”

Elena Donovan Mauer

Elena Donovan Mauer is a writer and editor passionate about helping people through their fertility journey. She’s a former editor of The Bump and CafeMom and has written about fertility and pregnancy for Parents, Parenting and other publications.