IVF Babble

Private IVF patients not always getting the facts from their clinic to make informed decisions

Back in 2016, ivfbabble.com was launched to support men and women trying to conceive, with clear and easy to understand information about fertility and treatment
The creation of the online magazine followed the founders’ own complex fertility journeys, in which they found themselves lost, confused and overwhelmed by their lack of comprehension about their own bodies and their treatment options. 
Although ivfbabble.com has had over 4.8 million visitors since it’s launch, and patient advocacy is being practiced more and more, the need for clear guidance and information is still apparent, as a recent review by the The Competition and Markets Authority stated that patients in the UK, paying privately for fertility treatment are not receiving clear information about key aspects such as costs, add ons and success rates, which means they are not able to make informed decisions about their treatment.

This lack of transparency can have serious repercussions for people, especially when it comes to spiralling costs.

Add-ons

Add-ons should be understood properly before anyone goes ahead with these tests and procedures. Add-ons are optional extras that clinics may offer on top of  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.

Success rates

The success rates of a clinic is an important factor, but you need to explore them carefully – you need to ensure that the clinic’s success rates are comparable to the national average. You can check a country’s success rates by looking at the regularity boards  SARTHFEA, or ESHRE.

Cost

When planning your budget for your fertility treatment, there is a lot to take into consideration. You need to think about the cost of treatment, the medication, the tests, storage along with the travel and accommodation costs if you are travelling abroad.

Add to that, the fact that no-one can guarantee that your first round of treatment will be successful and the build up of costs can seem incredibly overwhelming. On average, it can take 3 rounds of IVF to achieve a live birth, so before you say yes to treatment at a clinic, do your research

Make sure you have explored all of your options to see if you can get financial cover from insurers, employers or the NHS if you are in the UK.

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 before they sign up to paying privately.

Louise Strong, director of consumer protection at the CMA, said: “Buying fertility treatment can be stressful and is very expensive, with each cycle costing several thousand pounds.

“It’s crucial that people have all the information they need up front when they are comparing options so they can make decisions that are right for them, so it’s encouraging to see positive changes from clinics as a result of our work.

But clinics cannot be complacent. All clinics must get up to speed now to ensure they are on the right side of the law or risk action from the CMA.”

The encouraging news following the review, is that the clinics contacted have now made changes to their practices to benefit patients.

The CMA plans to hold discussions with clinics and the sector, including the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to explore the possibility of developing a standard approach for what is included in a headline package price for a single cycle of IVF to help patients make better comparisons between clinics.

It has also jointly published an open letter with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ensure clinics comply with consumer law.

Before you say yes to a clinic, please take a look at our checklist. We have listed key points to consider and questions to ask before you commit to anything along with a finance checklist, so that you can try and avoid spiralling costs.

How do I choose a clinic?

How much money will I need to put aside for my IVF treatment?

 

 

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