The process of having a baby isn't always easy. And, for some, that can mean using reproductive assistance like in vitro fertilization (IVF) to try to conceive. In fact, a third of US adults say they have used fertility treatments or know someone who has, according to the Pew Research Center.
While your health insurance may cover some or all of the costs, IVF treatments are a big financial investment. If you're considering using IVF, it's important to know what to expect. So what does IVF cost, exactly? Caveat: It's not the same everywhere, but there is a typicalrange. Here's what you can generally expect to pay on your journey.
What Is IVF, Again?
IVF is a form of assisted reproductive technology that's usually done in cycles, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It's often the route of conception for people who are AFAB and looking to have a baby, but are experiencing issues with infertility often caused by damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, severe endometriosis, or unexplained infertility, ACOG says.
The way each cycle looks can vary by patient and their own needs but, in general, it may include the following:
An egg retrieval. For this step, patients are given medication called gonadotropins to trigger ovulation and produce several eggs. When the eggs are fully formed, they're removed from the ovaries with a needle.
· Egg fertilization. During this step, sperm is either added to the eggs in a lab or a single sperm is injected into each egg.
· Embryo transfer. Several days after they're fertilized, one or more of the embryos are placed in the uterus through the vagina. Healthy embryos that aren't transferred may be frozen and stored for the future.
What Does IVF Cost?
It's important to point out upfront that costs can vary from practice to practice and from state to state. "Oftentimes, the experience and expertise of the IVF clinic can affect the cost of treatment," says Alex Robles, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist with Columbia University Fertility Center. "A practice with more experience may charge more for its services than a smaller, less experienced practice." Overhead costs, like the office building and embryology lab may also factor in, he says.
Even cost of living is a consideration, says Vitaliya Dovirak, finance director of RMA Long Island IVF. "If you are a New York resident but live upstate, you would definitely find a lower price for IVF there — the average salary in that area is lower," she says. "The salary in Long Island is also different from the salary in Manhattan — that impacts pricing."
Many doctors that provide IVF services will offer package deals, Dovirak says. So, you'll end up paying a flat fee for a single IVF cycle that experts say can range from $12,000 to $25,000 that will cover all of your needs before insurance.
If you want to get a little more specific, though, Dr. Robles says this is a general idea of what you can expect to pay per step in the IVF process if you don't have insurance coverage:
· Initial consultation: $300 to $500
· Medication leading up to egg retrieval: $4,000 to $6,000
· Sperm retrieval: This cost is usually folded into an IVF package price.
· Growing egg to day three or five: Included in the package price.
· Embryo transfer: A fresh transfer is usually part of a package price, but a frozen embryo transfer could cost between $3,000 and $5,000.
· Follow-up visit: Typically included in the package price.
· Embryo storage: If you choose to store your embryos for later use, it may cost $1,000 to $2,000 a year.
Does Insurance Cover IVF?
It depends. "Most insurances do not cover fertility treatment," Dr. Robles says. "However, a growing number of plans are now starting to cover it as infertility awareness is rising."
But some states like New York have actually mandated that health insurance plans cover a certain number of IVF cycles, with some exemptions. Overall, 17 states require insurers to either cover or offer coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment, per the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Ultimately, though, you'll need to check with your provider to see if they offer IVF coverage.
How to Save Financially For IVF
If you've found a fertility clinic you like, Dovirak recommends asking them up front about costs and payment plans. "We have a lot of options for patients and we help them as much as we can," she says.
Some clinics have grants you can apply to, and they may often know of private and state grants, Dovirak says. If you feel comfortable taking out a loan, your clinic can also direct you toward a company that can help, she says.
Just keep in mind that applying for a grant doesn't mean you'll actually get it. "Coverage is not guaranteed," Dr. Robles says.
Non-Financial IVF Costs to Consider
IVF can be stressful on your body and mind, and that's not something to minimize, says Tamar Gur, M.D., Ph.D., a women's health expert and reproductive psychiatrist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "You have to acknowledge that you're entering a marathon, and it's important to adjust your behavior accordingly," she says.
That can mean talking to your partner (if you have one) in advance about how many cycles you want to do, how you plan to space them out, and if some months may be better than others, Dr. Gur says.
It's also important to have a regular exercise routine and good sleep habits in place, while ensuring that you have a good support system, Dr. Gur says. "Going through IVF can be an incredibly isolating experience that can shrink your world down to just IVF," she says. "It's important to not let that happen and to talk to friends and loved ones about how you're feeling."
And, if you find that you're feeling overwhelmed and consumed about IVF — meaning, you can't think of anything but the process — Dr. Gur says it's a good idea to check in with a mental health professional. "Don't just say this obsessive thinking is part of the experience," she says. "It doesn't have to be that hard on you."