Making Sense of the Cost of IVF
The cost of infertility treatment is a concern for most people since the majority of insurance plans do not cover most infertility treatments. Even if some insurance coverage is available it often doesn’t help with the most expensive treatments like IVF. This creates a difficult situation for many couples that want to have children but are afraid they may not be able to afford the cost involved with having them. Over the past few years, seemingly attractive financial options have appeared from some infertility clinics, which on the surface make it appear as if the costs associated with the most expensive infertility procedures may be significantly reduced. Unfortunately, most of these plans are deceptive in their claim to offer affordable or discount pricing to couples in need. A closer look at the way a few of the more common purported cost saving plans work reveals that these plans are not really what they claim to be.
“Money back guarantee” Plans
These plans offer to refund money if the treatment cycle doesn’t work. However, the advertisement of these plans makes it sound as if a 100% refund of money will result if a cycle of IVF is unsuccessful. This is not how it works. To participate in this type of plan a couple must pay much more for a treatment cycle than normal. The amount of money that is actually refunded is far less than 100%. The actual refund is not based on the total money paid at the beginning of the cycle but by a variable percentage of a portion of the total cost. The percentage is determined by the age of the woman. The older a woman is, the less money is refunded. No matter how old the woman is, however, the amount refunded is never even close to 100%. For young women, the ones who are the most likely to get pregnant from IVF anyway, the end result is that if successful they pay up to 50% more for a cycle of IVF than they would have if they didn’t select a money back option. Remember, these plans are not designed for the clinic to lose money. They must charge more for each cycle to make up for the money they do refund.
Financial Package Plans
These plans claim to offer a reduced price if a couple pays in advance for multiple cycles. Where it is true that the cost of a three cycle package may be less than the cost of three individual cycles at the regular price, it is only a savings if the couple has success in the third cycle after failing in the first two attempts. These programs don’t refund any money if the couple has success in the first or second cycle. Additionally, once the pregnancy is out of the first trimester, some programs consider this a successful pregnancy. A couple who has paid for three cycles that gets pregnant in the first cycle does not get any credit for additional treatment if they desire another pregnancy after a successful delivery or even if they experience a tragic pregnancy loss in the second or third trimester. The only way this program is a savings is if the couple becomes pregnant in the third treatment cycle. These days with the current pregnancy success rates, it is not usually necessary to do three cycles of IVF to become pregnant. See our new three cycle package plan and compare.
“Low price” Financial Options
The cost of an IVF cycle has been remarkably stable over the past 10 years. In any reputable program across the country, a cycle of IVF costs about $12,000-$14,000 including medication. Whenever an advertised price is significantly less than this, it means that something has been left out. There are some programs that claim their ability to perform IVF for about half this amount. These programs are not including in the total price the cost of medications, many laboratory charges and often the cost of monitoring. A couple must be careful to consider just what is included in the low price option, as well as how much more they must pay to avoid compromising the chance of the treatment working. To make these plans work, a program must see a lot of patients and they sacrifice much in the process. This usually means that a one-size fits all approach to treatment is used, ignoring the fact that each couple is unique and requires an individualized approach when determining the medication protocol that is used.
The way these programs often work is to schedule a large group of patients to undergo their IVF cycles at the same time by putting them all on birth control pills for a month or longer. In many of these patients, the use of birth control pill suppression will ultimately blunt their response to stimulation resulting in fewer eggs recovered or cancellation of the cycle due to poor response. The date of the egg retrieval may be actually scheduled before the stimulation phase begins. This is done so that there will not be too many egg retrieval procedures on any one day, making it easier for the doctors and the laboratory staff. Unfortunately, this means that in many cases the eggs will be retrieved either too early or too late, which results in eggs of poorer quality leading to a reduced number of good embryos to transfer. In an attempt to make up for this, the number of embryos transferred may be increased above what is normally considered appropriate. Additionally, the cycle may be conducted with only two or three ultrasound and blood tests performed during the entire time, since the day of egg retrieval has been pre-determined. This is one more way that the ultimate success of the cycle is compromised. Each woman going through IVF has individual medication needs and responds to these medications in their own way. In order to maximize the number and quality of the eggs retrieved, it is necessary to perform ultrasound and blood tests at least every other day after the first three days, and every day towards the end. It is clear that if a couple is forced to accept a treatment regimen that makes it less likely that they will become pregnant from IVF just so that they can bring the costs down to an advertised ‘œlow price’, serious consideration must be given as to whether or not this represents a real advantage. Most of the time when the cycle has finished, the couple has spent about $12,000-$14,000 anyway after all of the so-called ‘œextras’ are included.