When Erica Hopper and her husband decided to use in vitro fertilization to conceive their second child, she wasn't sure how they were going to pay for it. They'd already had a daughter successfully via intrauterine insemination, or IUI, but weren't having success during their second attempt with the procedure.
Fortunately, the family was there to help. "My in-laws wrote us a check for $15,000," says Hopper, 34, who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. The IVF round was successful. Today, she has a second daughter, who is nearly 2 years old. And her in-laws received a return on their $15,000 investment: "They got an awesome granddaughter out of it," Hopper says.
Like many fertility treatments, IVF can be expensive. The process involves several rounds of medical procedures in which a woman's mature eggs are collected, fertilized by sperm, then transferred to the uterus. One round of IVF can cost $15,000 or more, and many patients undergo multiple rounds of IVF, inflating the total cost.
If you're considering IVF, figuring out how to pay for it is likely a major factor in your decision. Here's how much to anticipate paying for IVF and strategies to cover the costs.
[Read: The Cost of Birth Control.]
How Much Does IVF Cost?
The average cost of IVF in the U.S. is $10,000 to $15,000, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. But the average fertility patient undergoes more than two cycles, so the cumulative IVF costs fall into the $40,000 to $60,000 range, according to data from more than 23,000 fertility patients from FertilityIQ, an online database and fertility information resource.
Additionally, patients may pay for medications, genetic testing, diagnostic tests and lead-up doctor's appointments. They may also have paid previously to have their eggs frozen or secure donor sperm.
In short, IVF is not cheap. But your actual costs may be decreased by access to health insurance benefits that cover infertility treatments. Here's what to know.
How Can I Pay for IVF?
There are strategies aspiring parents can use -- some better than others -- to pay for IVF treatments. If you're not sure how to foot the bill, consider these potential funding sources.
-- Employee benefits and health insurance.
-- Your parents, friends or in-laws.
-- A personal loan or financing through the fertility center.
-- Retirement accounts.
-- Applying for a grant.
Keep in mind that for many patients, time is in short supply when considering IVF, so the need to access funds quickly may take away the opportunity to save or budget for this expense. Here's what to know about these financing strategies.
Using Health Insurance and Employee Benefits to Pay for IVF
If you're looking to pay for IVF, one of your first stops should be with your human resources department to better understand whether some or all of your IVF expenses may be covered by employee benefits or your health insurance. "If you think you might need IVF treatment and you work at a company, the first thing you want to do is research the health care benefit," says Mariam Adams, a Merrill Lynch Wealth Management advisor in New York City.
More than 400 U.S. businesses and organizations have policies in place to cover IVF, according to a 2019 survey from FertilityIQ. But your employer may not do a great job of publicizing that benefit, so check whether you qualify for IVF coverage assistance.
Additionally, review your insurance policy carefully and talk to your providers about which procedures and diagnostic tests may be covered under your health plan. "There may be things that, even if it doesn't cover infertility, per se, it may cover seeing a specialist," says Betsy Campbell, chief engagement officer at Resolve: The National Infertility Association, a nonprofit dedicated to infertility advocacy and support.
Pay attention to the subtleties in your plan. Adams, who works with many LGBTQ clients, recommends understanding the difference between coverage for IVF treatments as a result of infertility and IVF treatments utilized because, for example, the future parents are of the same gender. Some benefits may require proof of an infertility diagnosis, which won't cover every potential patient.
Keep in mind that your state may be among the 16 that have passed laws that require insurers to cover or offer coverage for treatments related to an infertility diagnosis, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The states are:
-- New Jersey.
-- New York.
-- Rhode Island.
-- West Virginia.
One caveat: If your company is self-insured, it's not required to abide by state mandates, Campbell says. If you find that your coverage and benefits are lacking, consider drumming up the courage to talk to your human resources office about its offerings. Working together with other employees may strengthen your ask.
Relatedly, if you have a dedicated health savings account such as an HSA or FSA, now is a good time to determine whether your plan allows for those savings to be directed toward your IVF treatment and utilize those funds appropriately. "An HSA or an FSA is a great place to start," Adams says. "It's just an account that let's you use pretax dollars to let you pay for eligible health care costs."
How to Ask Your Parents to Help Pay for IVF
Like Hopper, you may have generous parents, in-laws or grandparents willing to write a check for IVF treatment. If so, consider taking them up on that offer. After all, you both have the same objectives here: to see your family grow and thrive.
Another way to tap friends and family for help is to launch a crowd-sourcing campaign on a platform such as GoFundMe. Remember that while your request for donations will be directed toward loved ones, it's still accessible to anyone with the link, Adams says. You'll need to be comfortable publicizing your reproductive hurdles and will want to be careful with how you frame your request. For example, you may want to state that instead of baby gifts, you'd like people to support your starting a family through IVF, Adams says.
When to Use a Loan to Pay for IVF
Your fertility center may partner with a financing company such as CapexMD to offer loans structured for fertility patients. Alternatively, you may want to head out on the open market and find loans through a bank or a peer-to-peer lending service such as LendingClub. "I think if you've exhausted all other resources, it could make sense to at least explore a personal loan, especially if this is important to you," says Roger Ma, certified financial planner and founder of lifelaidout in New York City.
You may also want to look at borrowing against your home equity or financing the procedure through a zero balance introductory rate credit card. With any loan, understand your interest rate, payment schedule, fees and any penalties for prepayment, missed payment or other mishaps. Ask yourself: Do I have the stamina and self-control to repay this loan on time?
Ma recommends thinking carefully about how your repayment will look if your IVF treatment is successful. Can you afford another monthly bill on top of hospital bills, daycare, pediatric bills and diapers? "Try to imagine what your cost are going to be if it's successful and you do have a kid," Ma says.
Borrowing Against Your Retirement Accounts to Pay for IVF
Another place to search for money is your retirement accounts. Keep in mind that raiding your fund comes with downsides, including losing out on market gains and paying potential interest or penalties if the money isn't replaced on time.
Strategies to consider are taking contributions from your Roth IRA, which can be done penalty-free. Another option is to borrow from your 401(k). You can take no more than $50,000 or 50% of your vested balance, whichever is less, and will typically need to repay the loan within five years or shortly after you leave your job.
Apply for a Grant
Finally, consider applying for a grant to help pay for fertility treatment costs. To qualify for some of these grants, you may have to meet certain criteria for household income, ethnic background or other characteristics. Resolve: The National Infertility Association maintains a list of fertility grants and scholarships on its website.
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