Funding Fertility - Poverty for a Miracle?
As we're currently in a situation where we have a deadline to get pregnant or seek fertility treatments, the costs of such treatments have been on my mind. I've been wondering what the process should cost vs what it does cost.
Which leads me to the question: How much of the cost is really necessary?
I have a couple of different points of view where this is concerned, so I want to start with some research I've done.
First, we live in Canada which means that, though fertility treatments are not covered by our much-discussed national healthcare program, the prices are regulated. That means that the prices of all fertility services are very similar across all Canadian fertility clinics. For example, an IVF cycle ranges between $6500-$7000 Canadian (≈$5000-$5500 USD at the time of writing) before medications.
To me, that's great. That means that I know how much it will cost us and it means that it's fairly affordable here to have a "miracle baby". But it also means we don't have any fertility clinics here that are more affordable than others. A true capitalist would think this was a travesty, but I believe that levels the playing field for many couples.
Now, I'm from the United States, and I have a lot of friends/acquaintances who have sought treatment in the U.S., and I know the price tag varies greatly from clinic to clinic. This ranges from CNY Fertility who touts the least expensive fertility treatment rates in the country. Their IVF starts at $3900 per cycle. They even sponsor "Travel fertility" where they put you up in a hotel so you can fly in, get impregnated, and leave.
To pretty much everyone else who won't disclose their prices:
Each couple’s infertility treatment plan addresses their individual needs, the same is true of the costs associated with that plan. We understand that cost is an important consideration when making decisions regarding your treatment, and have developed a comprehensive array of financial services to help you achieve your goal of having a child. Once your customized treatment plan is in place, one of our financial counselors will provide you with the cost information specific to your plan.
According to Forbes Magazine, the average price of IVF was $12-15,000 (USD) per cycle (before medications) in 2014. If IVF is like every other commodity, we can assume it's gone up since then.
In the extreme, you hear horror stories of couples who have put a second mortgage on their house to pay for tens of thousands of dollars of treatments, just to have a biological child. (Personal note: I know a couple of those)
I asked in a fertility group and searched some message boards, and I got the following figures:
- $20,000 for a single IVF cycle with a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) in Nashville, Tennessee - no medications
- $14,800 for an IVF cycle with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) which is when they inject a sperm into an egg to fertilize it at Kaiser Permanente in California.
- $13,500 for an IVF cycle with ICSI and all tests in Kansas.
- $9,050 for IVF in Illinois with a fresh embryo. A frozen embryo is an additional $2500.
- $7000 for IVF including medications in Arizona.
- €1,200 ($1,400 USD!!) for IVF in Lithuania
And what's worse is that the majority of insurance companies do not cover fertility treatments. According to CNBC, 26% of insurance provided by American employers includes infertility treatments. I can't find a similar study on Canadian insurances, but I know neither my husband's not my medical insurance covers it. However, my employer does cover fertility treatments in another way.
The questions that spring to mind are "Is it worth it?" and "Does it really cost that much?" Though I'm not ready to discuss whether the treatment is "worth it" if a single treatment can have a swing in price of over $9000, why can one clinic charge so little and the other so much? How much is fluff to make sure that doctor gets to drive a Maserati?
I'm certain that every doctor on the planet would scream about how they wouldn't possibly "pad" their prices, but I would love a different explanation.