The story of the birds and the bees, as told to children, typically doesn’t involve dollar signs.
But an increasing number of couples struggling with infertility are turning to expensive reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), to help them start a family.
Of the nearly 4 million babies born in the US, nearly 68,000 are conceived using IVF, according to the most recent data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In some countries, the number is even higher.
On a recent episode of the IVFML podcast, Huffpost health editor Anna Almendrala and her husband, comedy writer Simon Ganz, broke down the costs associated with one round of IVF treatment. Here’s how much they spent — and on what:
- $ 1,121.33: medication to stimulate egg production and prevent ovulation
- $ 2,410: five ultrasounds and blood tests at about $ 500 each
- $ 1,195: surgical clinic fee
- $ 445: anesthesia fee
- $ 2,440: procedure fee for egg extraction
- $ 2,100: embryo handling by embryologist
- $ 1,600: assisted oocyte fertilization (this was a “splurge”), which resulted in five embryos
- $ 1,950 embryo scope to test embryos (time lapse photos as they grow)
- $ 1,650 biopsy on embryos for pre-implementation genetic screening
- $ 3,950 pre-implementation genetic screening
- $ 1,800 freezer to store embryos for weeks while waiting for test results
In total, the couple spent about $ 21,000 for one round of IVF. Almendrala found a silver lining, at least: “So many credit card points!”
“Thankfully, we had insurance with an infertility benefit. So, after we submitted our $ 21,161.33 in bills to the insurance company, we got back $ 5,000,” Ganz said.
That might not seem like much, but as the couple mentioned on the podcast, they were fortunate. Currently, only 15 states require health insurance companies to provide coverage for infertility treatment.
“We believe that about 50% of people who are told that IVF is the way for them never actually access IVF because of finances,” Collura told Almendrala and Ganz. “IVF is not something anybody plans for, or saves up for.”
The other challenge with IVF — both financially and emotionally — is that one round may not be enough.
IVF success rates vary depending on many factors, including the mother’s age. One Swedish study found that after three IVF cycles, the success rate increased to 66%. But three rounds of IVF would mean spending over $ 60,000 without any guarantee that the process would work.
For couples who need IVF, but are concerned about the high price tag, Collura told Almendrala and Ganz that they may have options:
“We always recommend you sit down with the clinic first, and ask all the questions about what kind of financing programs they have … Maybe you can pay it over a certain number of months …
“A lot of clinics do have something called a shared risk program where you might be able to purchase a certain number of IVF cycles, and you actually might even get your money back if you don’t have a baby.”
To follow Almendrala and Ganz on their journey to start a family, subscribe to the IVFML podcast.
IVFML is a HuffPost Podcast hosted by Anna Almendrala and Simon Ganz and produced by Nick Offenberg.