Funding IVF and coping with the cost

We learnt so much from the Cope Talks this week from our panel of experts who gave us some incredible information and guidance about the real cost of IVF and creative ways of finding the funding. 

You can view this and previous week’s Cope Talk episodes here . . . but we also wanted to summarise some of the points made during this invaluable discussion.

The key message is that before you move forwards and say yes to treatment with a fertility clinic, it’s important for you to do your research

We want you to fully understand that IVF is an accumulative process and no-one can guarantee that you will be successful on your first round. In fact, on average, it can take 3 rounds of IVF to achieve a live birth. So, this is something to bear in mind if you are having to fund your IVF cycles yourself.

How much is a round of IVF?

This is where you need to really do your homework. Dimitris Kavakas, one of our experts from Redia, who joined us on the panel yesterday, told us:

“It is important to realise that when a clinic gives you the cost of a round of IVF, sometimes they are referring to the basic cost of the IVF stimulation, egg collection and embryo transfer. There may however be ‘other costs’ associated with your treatment and it’s important to ask what these may be.

For example, there are added costs associated with an IVF cycle, such as medication, monitoring (blood tests and scans), freezing (sperm freezing, egg freezing or embryo freezing), subsequent embryo transfer, ICSI, blastocyst culture, time lapse incubator and other lab methods (assisted hatching, embryo glue PGS or PGT-A testing etc)”. it’s important to understand what it is you may need and to factor in these costs.

Some examples of costs

In the UK, a single cycle of IVF, without any associated costs, would be between £4,000 to £6,000 depending on the clinic.

In the USA, the average cycle cost would be around $12,000 and medication costs would be around $7,000.

The cost of a cycle varies from 4,500 to 7,000 euros in Spain.

Beware of ‘hidden’ costs

Add-ons are optional extras that you may be offered on top of your normal fertility treatment, often at an additional cost. They are sometimes emerging techniques that may have shown some promising results in initial studies, or they may have been around for a number of years, but haven’t necessarily been proven to improve pregnancy or birth rates.

“You must not fall for any unnecessary add ons” explained Tim Child, Consultant Gynaecologist, and founding Director of The Fertility Partnership. “Please take a look at the HFEA website, where you will find the traffic light rating system, which makes it very easy to to identify which add-ons have been shown to be effective.

So how will you pay for your treatment, bearing in mind it may take at least three rounds to achieve a live birth?

Mr James Nicopoullos, Consultant Gynaecologist and Sub-specialist in Reproductive Medicine & Surgery at the Lister Fertility Clinic in the UK told us that he always encourages his patients to look first at Fertility Fairness.com, a guide to see if they are eligible for fertility treatment on the NHS.

Sadly though, the NHS is cutting back on the availability of free fertility treatment due to cuts in funding. NHS funding for IVF depends on where you live. You may be offered two rounds or one. Getting three is becoming rare. Worryingly, some are closing treatment altogether. Many will refuse to treat you if you or your partner have a child or you have a high body mass index (BMI).

Do your homework

If the NHS won’t pay for your IVF then it’s time to think about going private.  The best advice we can give is spend time researching the right clinic.

Avoid budget clinics – Do not opt for ‘budget clinics’. Budget IVF clinics use low-dose hormone stimulation protocols, mainly natural cycles or enhanced natural cycles. These protocols use minimal or no drugs, which lower the cost since medication is almost 25-30% of the IVF cost. In addition, they use fewer lab resources. Those options are only suited to younger patients with minor fertility issues who can generate a small number of eggs with minimal or no medication. I would personally be very skeptical of such options. Remember, going cheap can work out more expensive in the long run.

Free tests and scans – Before you sign on the dotted line with your clinic, check with your local GP to see if they can give you any free tests and scans.

Get a full breakdown of costs from each IVF clinic.

Beware of extra costs – Know what other services you might need and what you will pay.

Look in to Egg sharing.  – It can lower the cost of your treatment. The way it works, is that you donate healthy eggs and the clinic gives you free IVF treatment. Talk to your clinic about this option.

It’s crucial you plan your finances

So the message is that there’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding IVF costs. That makes an already tough emotional process harder if you can’t fix your costs and plan ahead for the treatments you’ll need.

All of this makes it more important than ever to budget carefully and work out your finances if you go private. Calculate what you earn and spend to see what you can afford.

Creative ways of funding IVF

So, once you know roughly how much you are potentially going to have to spend, you need to work out how you are going to pay for it.

Insurance coverage – Insurance coverage of IVF in Europe is extremely rare , however, if you are in the USA, talk to your insurance company and ask them if you are covered. There are several states, though, in which fertility cover is not part of the insurance coverage, so do your research.

Talk to your human resource manager – There are increasingly more and more employers that offer fertility treatments as part of their employee support offers and perhaps, they can cover part of the IVF costs. In a bid to remain competitive and attract the best talent out there, companies like Goldman Sachs, Foursquare, Box, Samsara, Starbucks, Liberty Mutual, and Slack are offering their employees valuable fertility benefits.

Look in to a refund scheme – Refund programs, like Redia offer multi-cycle IVF packages with all medical costs included until a live birth is achieved, with a  refund guarantee if such a result is not achieved. You have options of paying 50% up front, with the remainder in instalments over 6 months. 

Look in to affordable loans – Ally Lending in the US offer loans up to $40,000 with far lower interest rates than a bank loan or credit card.

Charitable organisations – Have a look at wonderful charitable organisations like Baby Quest, whose goal is to grant financial assistance to those who cannot afford the high cost of fertility treatment.

Free IVFs – Keep an eye on us at IVF babble as we are constantly asking clinics to give us free IVF’s that we can give to our readers.

Before you do anything

IVF is one of the most emotionally and physically draining experiences you will ever encounter. Adding financial pressure on top of that will make life even more difficult, so please do as much research as you can.

  • Understand the real cost.
  • Be realistic about how many rounds you might need.
  • Make sure you have explored all of your options to see if you can get financial cover from insurers, employers or the NHS.

As always, we send you all the love in the world. If you have any questions, please do drop us a line and we will put you in touch with one of our experts, info@ivfbabble.com

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