How Do Average People Pay for IVF?
You have decided that it’s time to try in vitro fertilization to build your family. In the midst of researching clinics, health issues, and success rates, you keep bumping up against the cost. Now you have a case of sticker shock! How on earth are you going to pay for infertility treatment?
We recently asked our online support group how they paid for infertility treatment. It turns out, the methods that average people employ to pay for IVF aren’t all that different from how they pay for those other ways of building their family. The one most notable exception is that quite often health insurance covers at least some portions of infertility treatment.
Insurance Coverage Doesn’t Usually Cover It All
In a couple of informal polls of our online community, the clear winner for how most members afforded IVF was some form of insurance coverage. For a few respondents, the coverage was a yearly cap while others had a percentage of treatment costs or a flat rate per specific procedure. Creating a Family has a helpful tip sheet on ways to get the most out of your health insurance coverage for fertility care.
To make up the difference, because sadly only very few employers offer 100% coverage and because often getting pregnant takes more than one treatment, our members reported a wide variety of other ways to pay for IVF.
Budgeting and Saving
Several members shared ideas for (impressively) serious budget trimming to increase their ability to save money for out of pocket expenses. Jennifer and her spouse stopped eating out for eight months and reduced their spending money by 25%! Many members mentioned cutting entertainment or vacation expenses for the time in which they were saving for treatment. Still others chose to live “below their salary,” drive used cars, and use any extra income like bonuses or tax refunds specifically for treatment costs.
C.M. made a pretty poignant comment about the hard work of saving and the uncertainty of that effort:
Completely agreed it’s much better than a new car! For many, however, the money gets spent with only heartache to show. You just don’t know going into it.
Gifts and Loans
Of course, wise budgeting and scrupulous savings plans are not always enough to cover the full expense of in vitro fertilization. Many in the group reported that they used gift money from inheritances, holidays, and birthdays to bolster their savings plans. A few were given gifts specifically for their treatment costs.
Conventional wisdom often recommends against mixing money and family for the preservation of relationship, and with good reason. However, several community members sought loans from family or friends and found it to be no detriment to their family dynamics. One even had her parents refuse to accept repayment of half of the original loan. Instead, they suggested she put it in savings for the child’s education.
Quite a few members took advantage of 401K loan programs or home equity loans that they plan to repay from savings once treatment is complete. Creating a Family always recommends caution when considering debt for family building. Each family has their comfort with the risks and benefits of borrowing against retirement or other assets, and clearly, this is something to talk about with your partner.
Credit Cards / Payment Plans
Closely related to retirement or equity loans was the use of credit cards to pay for fertility treatment. Again, we recommend caution. The interest rates on the average credit card are often significantly higher than other more traditional loans and lingering debt can be very hard on a growing family. Similarly, some clinics also offer payment plans, but check out the interest rates and compare with other options.
One more thing to consider – infertility treatment is not always successful. How will you feel paying off your debt each month when you are still longing for a baby?
Fundraising and Crowd-Funding
One of our members mentioned a few creative fundraising ideas. They hosted a Chili Cook-off, utilized a crowd-funding site, and put together a big yard sale. It may be a tremendous amount of work, but it could be a great experience to pull a couple closer together in the mission to build their family. It might even be something that draws extended family in with empathy and support for the hard road of infertility.
Crowd-funding sites have gotten much attention in recent years. It seems like they can be a “love them or hate them” kind of extreme. Creating a Family shared a news story a few years ago about one woman’s decision to use crowd-funding and what she learned about herself while in the struggle with infertility.
If you are thinking about using a crowd-funding site, be sure to do your homework. Some sites charge flat rates or withhold a portion of the funding for administrative fees. Ask around for recommendations and read the fine print carefully.
Multi-Cycle or Discount Programs
Many clinics offer a multi-cycle discount or other similar price-reducing programs. If you are among the 50% of patients who do not conceive with the first treatment, or if you have additional risk factors that make multiple rounds of treatment likely, this option is a great one for you to consider.
The Sticker Shock is Real, But You Aren’t Alone
Isn’t it comforting to recognize that you aren’t alone in the “sticker shock” of how to pay for IVF? These are certainly not the only or definitive ways to afford fertility treatment. The Creating a Family community is full of “average” folks trying to build their families and figure out how to pay for it all. If you aren’t part of our group yet, we invite you to join us on Facebook. You’ll find many kindred spirits as you wrestle with the questions of affording treatment and hopefully soon raising your family.
Image Credit: Selbe.; Emma Brabrook