In the United States, 16.2% of married women aged 15-49 struggle with infertility. It is no surprise, then, that fertility treatments are becoming more of a necessity for couples who are faced with infertility and wish to have children. While there are many types of fertility treatments, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is one of the most commonly known options. However, the high cost of IVF is often cited as the primary obstacle to undergoing treatment. Let’s take a look at what IVF entails, and how much IVF costs.
What is IVF?
IVF is a process in which doctors start by prescribing hormones that stimulate multiple egg releases (hyperovulation) in the woman undergoing treatment. The hormones are typically administered using injections. Once the eggs are mature the patient visits her doctor’s office where, under general anesthesia, the eggs are removed from her body.
A medical specialist then collects the eggs and places them in a laboratory dish with the father’s sperm to give them the chance to fertilize. If a sperm fertilizes an egg and an embryo forms, the embryo is placed in an incubator and monitored for a short period. Then it is transferred into the uterus during a quick procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia. About two weeks after the embryo implants into the uterus, a blood test determines whether the transfer resulted in pregnancy.
How much does IVF cost?
For a single basic IVF cycle, plus the price of fertility drugs and specialized testing, the average cost of IVF is at least $20,000. If IVF is paired with an egg donation procedure, the cost of one cycle can be anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000. However, more than half of IVF patients have to undergo more than one cycle, which can culminate in a big-ticket expense of $50,000 or more on out-of-pocket treatment.
Additional Costs for IVF
Additional assisted reproductive technologies can increase the cost per patient. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) treatment, for example, is when a single sperm gets injected right into an egg. This can cost an additional $1,000 to $2,500. Genetic testing of embryos can cost $3,000 or more. Embryo freezing can cost several hundred dollars more. Yearly storage fees range anywhere from $200 to $800 per year. For previously frozen embryos, the average cost for a frozen embryo transfer (FET) is about $3,000 – $5,000. If you have frozen embryos from a previous cycle and want to use them, doing so is significantly cheaper than doing a complete IVF cycle with fresh embryos.
Using an egg donor comes with high additional costs, as well. You may spend anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000. A sperm donor will cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Hiring a gestational carrier (a surrogate) and the fees associated is the most expensive of all IVF options. It comes with legal fees, agency fees, IVF costs, and payment to the gestational carrier. This total expense can range anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000.
The least expensive option is embryo donation. This is when an embryo has already been previously created and is in storage. This is often cheaper than a regular IVF cycle, as an embryo donor cycle ranges from $5,000 and $7,000. Unfortunately, since the vast majority of IVF cycles fail, more than half of patients must undergo a second cycle. Nearly a third of all patients undergo three or more treatments.
How Can You Pay for IVF?
Different insurance plans offer various coverage for infertility treatments. State legislation plays a role in how much insurance coverage will go towards helping with infertility treatments like IVF. Factors like the patient’s age, reasons for infertility, and even relationship status can all impact the insurance specifications and allowances.
Families have used all kinds of options to finance IVF treatment. They range from insurance to saving money, taking out loans against their 401(k)s, borrowing money from family. Some couples put payments on credit cards, or use crowdfunding. Other options may include grant monies, medical, personal, or home equity loans, a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings plan (HSA), or retirement savings.
Thankfully, many fertility clinics offer payment programs that allow patients to pay for the treatment incrementally, making it more affordable. Before committing to a fertility plan, shop around and see what practices or clinics offer the best practices and pricing. You also want to ask about a clinic’s success rates.
Things to Keep In Mind
Looking ahead, FertilityIQ.com estimates that IVF cycle costs will hit $25,000 by 2025 because of greater use of genetic testing ($5,000), embryo storage costs ($500 – $1,000 per year), and broader adoption of financing options to pay for infertility treatment plans (at 6 – 24% annual interest rates).
Take your time deciding whether IVF treatment is something you can afford, and looking into all your payment options. It’s a good idea to make a financial plan for how you’ll pay for your fertility treatments so that you don’t go into debt. Financial plans can involve saving money, earning more money, borrowing money, refinancing existing assets, and raising money through charity and grants.
IVF treatments can be grueling and emotional draining. But the rewards if it pays off are monumental! Consider finding a therapist, support group, or spiritual organization like a church to give you heartfelt support and encouragement as you journey towards motherhood.