savingmoneyQ: How are some clinics able to reduce the average cost of an IVF cycle?

A: “What really sets fertility centers apart from one another is their ability to offer treatment options in a way that is affordable for patients,” says Dr. Naveed Khan of Shady Grove Fertility. ” Even the most successful treatment options will not work if the patient is unable to access them. There are a number of ways that reputable fertility centers seek to make treatment affordable. Some are about clinical efficiencies, but the other side of the coin is creative financial programs.”

In terms of clinical efficiencies, new innovations have done a lot to reduce the cost of treatment. One example of this is vitrification, a new flash-freeze technology introduced in 2009. Traditionally, women undergoing afresh IVF treatment cycle would have the option to slow-freeze any remaining unused embryos. If the cycle did not result in a pregnancy, they had to decide if they wanted to use the frozen embryos or initiate a second fresh IVF cycle .This decision was hard for patients because, at the time, the pregnancy rates when using previously frozen embryos were significantly lower. As a result,women who were not successful with their first IVF cycle would likely have to undergo a second or possibly third full IVF cycle to achieve a pregnancy, which drastically increased the cost of care.

Vitrification technology has proven to increase the pregnancy rates when using previously frozen embryos to be just about equal tot he success rate when using fresh embryos. This increased success means patients have a second chance at pregnancy that is equal to the first, without going through the complicated steps and expense of another complete IVF cycle.Now, instead of having to decide between a less successful treatment option and the cost of initiating another fresh IVF cycle, women with remaining frozen embryos often reach success without another round of IVF. Since frozen embryo transfer cycles do not require ovarian stimulation or the expense of an egg retrieval they are more than half the cost of a fresh IVF cycle, making treatment overall more affordable.

Creative financing, discount, and treatment guarantee programs are other ways to reduce the cost of IVF. Financial programs to look for include multi-cycle packages for one fixed fee, military discounts, medication assistance programs, and income-based discount programs. There are also shared risk treatment guarantee plans that offer a 100% refund if treatment does not result in taking home a baby, leaving finances intact to explore other family building options, should the need arise. Of course, some exclusions apply for this fixed-cost shared risk alternative, but many families are increasingly interested in guaranteed programs.

Answered by Dr. Naveed Khan at Shady GroveFertility

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