Fertility treatments have become more and more popular in recent years with more than 1.5% of babies in 2013 born through in vitro fertilization (IVF). But with a price tag of about $12,400 for one cycle of IVF, the costs remain steep for the average American.
Adding doctor consultations, expensive hormone medication, laboratory services if you plan to freeze eggs or embryos, and additional IVF cycles (since most couples have to try several times before achieving a pregnancy), fertility treatments will easily set you back upwards of $30,000.
Few of us have $30,000 or even a fraction of that just sitting around to begin the process of fertility treatment, but it’s hard to set a price limit on having children and creating family. Even if you’re a pro at sticking to your budget, when it comes to fertility, it’s easy to think with your heart instead of your head and make poor financial decisions.
Your desire and hope to have children can leave you vulnerable to scams and financial predators, so it’s important to do your research and take the time to understand your options for fertility financing. With the right research and resources, you can carefully balance your life goal of trying for a family and maintaining a healthy budget. Here are some tips to get you started!
Do Your Research on Insurance, Discounts, and Special Programs
Only 15 states in the U.S. require medical insurance companies to offer coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatments– Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia. If you’re in one of these 15 states, consider yourself lucky, but make sure you understand how your state determines coverage, because most are not comprehensive.
Some states exclude coverage of IVF or have a lifetime maximum benefit, but will offer coverage for doctor consultations and other infertility treatments. Once you understand your state’s laws related to insurance coverage, contact your health insurance provider to verify the details.
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You can also choose to enroll in fertility programs that provide package pricing, discounts on treatments, and discounts on fertility medication. Since the success rate is around 30% for each IVF treatment, fertility programs help recoup costs for unsuccessful and multiple treatments by offering a percentage refund or credit if you experience multiple unsuccessful treatments.
Some companies that offer these programs include WinFertility, ARC Fertility, and Attain IVF. Many of these require you to visit specific fertility clinics within their network and fill prescriptions at specific pharmacies to enjoy benefits of the program, so do you research on which doctors, clinics, and treatments you need to calculate an estimate of your costs and savings with these programs.
If your health insurance provider offers no fertility coverage and/or you demonstrate financial need (based on a qualifying annual household gross income), you might be eligible for assistance programs that offer substantial savings on certain medications. EMD Serano’s Compassionate Care Program and Design Rx and Village Fertility Pharmacy’s First Steps Program are examples of these discounted medication programs.
Consider All Financing Options
Once you’ve determined just how much it will cost you to undergo fertility treatment or IVF (after you apply your insurance coverage and/ or any other discounts), you should take a look at your savings and investments.
Do you have enough saved to cover all costs? For most Americans, even with insurance coverage and special programs, fertility treatment will require a few thousand dollars upfront.
Donations/Grants: If you’re comfortable sharing your story with others, you can ask family and friends for donations. Websites like GiveForward and YouCaring allow you to start an online fundraiser to share your struggle with infertility, financial goals, and collect donations. You can also apply for fertility grants and scholarships like those offered by Baby Quest Foundation and Pay It Forward Fertility Foundation.
Use Existing Assets: Even if your savings and assets don’t add up to enough cash to get you started on fertility treatments, you could also consider using existing assets and investments to help find cash and save money. For example, if your employer offers a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can use your pre-tax dollars in these accounts to pay for IVF. You can also open a home equity line of credit, refinance your house, or take a loan against your 401K.
Credit Cards: If you’re nervous about touching existing assets and want to instead borrow money, you also have a variety of options. Like for any other big purchase/cost, you can use your credit card or its line of credit to cover a portion of your financial need. This might not be the best option if you’re going to take the maximum amount in you line of credit since interest rates will generally be high, and you can adversely affect your credit score.
How to Find a Fertility Loan Company
You can also consider taking out a loan to pay for fertility treatments. Keep in mind that there are many loan companies out there that prey on those desperate for fertility financing, so it’s especially important to do your research on different loan companies.
Also, don’t forget that if your treatments are successful, your expenses will increase once you have a baby, so it’s important to be realistic about your ability to afford monthly loan payments. Here are a few things to look out for when searching for a loan to pay for IVF or fertility treatments:
Do NOT assume that the fertility loan offered by your clinic or doctor is the best option.
Your doctor may offer you the best medical advice, but do NOT rely on her/him for financial advice. A doctor-recommended fertility loan company may not be your best option. In fact, some doctors have a financial stake in the loan process through partnerships or stock holdings in loan companies. Don’t fall prey to fertility loan companies that often use doctors as their most convincing salesmen.
Fertility financing is a business, and, at the end of the day, fertility loan companies are just companies trying to make money. You can ask for suggestions from your doctor’s office or fertility clinics, but rely on your own independent research to ensure that you choose the loan company that is best for your financial health.
Consider taking one large medical loan vs. several personal loans.
Medical loans work a little bit differently than personal loans, but can sometimes offer you larger amounts of money and/or better interest rates. They are specifically marketed for healthcare costs and sometimes restrict which doctors and clinics you can visit. Additionally, they don’t always cover fertility treatment, so it’s important to read the fine print before you apply to make sure you’re not wasting your time on the application. Peer-to-Peer lenders Lending Club and Prosper both have healthcare lending options that cover fertility treatments, and other companies like United Medical Credit, CapexMD and IVFLender also provide medical loans specific for fertility treatment or IVF.
The great thing about medical loans vs. personal loans is that medical loans can only be used to pay for medical treatment, so you will not be tempted to use medical loan money for other expenses. This can help you stick to your day-to-day budget and avoid going deeper into debt. Juggling several credit cards or personal loans can also be overwhelming, so by having one large medical loan, you also save the hassle of worrying about several accounts.
A $30,000 fertility loan is still a $30,000 loan.
The only difference between a loan for IVF and a loan for paying off your credit card debt is the emotion you choose to attach to the issue of fertility. A fertility loan company might argue that they are your best lending option since they are experienced in understanding your treatment process and giving emotional support, but that does absolutely nothing for your financial health. Emotional support is essential for any family struggling with infertility, but a loan company offers its best support by providing you with the best interest rates and repayment plans.
Don’t let marketing that preys on your emotional vulnerabilities get you stuck with a skyrocketing interest rate and unable to make your monthly payments. Just like you would with any other loan, you have to carefully calculate and consider the interest rates, fees, and repayment term offered by the loan company. It can be difficult to separate your emotion from fertility loans, but you do yourself a huge favor if you start to think about a fertility loan as just another loan.
It’s all too easy to jump head first into a loan for fertility treatment so that you can undergo treatments as soon as possible, but for the sake of you and your family’s future finances, you should take the time to research all your options for fertility financing.