Ways to Pay For Infertility Treatment Costs
Infertility costs add up quickly. Especially if you need IVF treatments, the costs can really get ridiculously high fast. One IVF cycle costs anywhere from $8,000 up to $15,000, depending on how technical your treatment is. For example, if you need genetic testing or ICSIs (intracytoplasmic sperm injection, a procedure that involves directly injecting a sperm cell into an egg cell), the cost for IVF will be higher than someone who does not need these specialized IVF treatments.
Considering that some couples may need up to three IVF cycles to get pregnant, plus the unfortunate fact that even high-tech IVF is no guarantee — it’s enough to make your head spin.
Just how can you afford infertility costs like these? Here are five tips that may make the high-cost treatments more tolerable.
Read your insurance plan very carefully.
You may not realize that you are eligible for at least partial coverage of the cost for infertility treatments. Most insurance companies are not interested in making this information clear.
Don’t assume insurance won’t cover you. While most REs (reproductive endocrinologists) and clinics don’t take insurance, that shouldn’t keep you from applying for reimbursement yourself.
First, read your policy carefully. Pay close attention to any limits of coverage requirements, so you can do your best to meet their rules. Once you’ve read your policy all the way through, call the company directly to ask more questions. If they deny that infertility treatments are covered, but you read in your policy that they are — well, now you’re ready to argue.
Use your flexible-spending account.
Another option for helping to pay for treatments is using your flexible-spending account, if you have one. Flexible-spending accounts are an employee benefit, offered by some companies, that allow you to set aside part of your pre-taxed income for special designated uses (often, medical expenses that are not covered by insurance.)
There may be limits on what you kinds of medical treatments a flexible-spending account can be used for, but infertility treatments are often included in the list of approved uses. Talk to your employer to find out more.
Dip into your 401(k).
Some retirement plans allow you to borrow money from your 401(k) plan. People dip into retirement funds for all sorts of reasons, and having a baby sounds like a legitimate reason to me! Again, like flexible-spending accounts, certain restrictions may apply. Speak to your employer to get more information on your options.
Take out a loan.
Some couples get an equity loan against their homes to cover treatment costs. You might even consider taking out an additional mortgage to cover your expenses. Some fertility clinics offer special payment plans, or loans through local banks.
And, of course, there are always credit cards. Just be careful you don’t take out more than you can afford, in terms of monthly payments. Infertility is already stressful, and faulting on your credit cards or loans will just add more stress and anxiety. You don’t need that.
Consider shared-risk or refund IVF programs.
Shared-risk or refund IVF programs vary from clinic to clinic, but they basically work like this. You pay upfront for multiple IVF treatments, the average being three cycles, but they can be more or less than this. Then, the clinic or shared-risk program promises to refund all or part of the money if you do not have a successful IVF cycle within the number of cycles you paid for upfront.
(Beware that “successful” is defined differently by different programs, with some considering a positive pregnancy test a success and others considering taking home a baby a success. Personally, I’d opt for programs that consider having the baby the success, because if you get pregnant, but miscarry, you’ve lost all your money.)
There are pros and cons when using shared-risk or refund IVF programs, and not every couple will qualify. (Clinics don’t offer these programs to couples who don’t have a good chance of success.)
Still, if it sounds interesting, you might want to look into the Attain IVF Program or The ARC Affordable Payment Plan . (I’m not endorsing either program, but just letting you know of them. They are the two largest providers.)
By Rachel Gurevich, About.com Guide
April 07, 2011