From the start of treatment to getting pregnant, fertility treatment is very expensive. We wanted to break down just what you can expect for the cost of IVF and what portion of the money is spent each step of the way.
A lot goes into an IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) cycle, and each portion tacks on its own costs. To start your treatment journey, you’ll set up a consultation with a fertility specialist. The doctor will do an assessment and recommend some precycle testing, which usually includes:
A Transvaginal Ultrasound assessment of the uterus and ovaries
Not every patient will have the same pre-cycle testing. Your doctor will select which tests are right for you based on your health, age, and pregnancy history. Cost will vary based on which tests your doctor orders for you and also based on your insurance coverage. Many health insurance plans cover pre-cycle testing even if they do not cover fertility treatment.
The pre-cycle testing makes up about 10% of the total cost of treatment if it is not covered by insurance.
The treatment cycle itself makes up the majority of the cost of fertility treatment, at just below 50% of the total. Costs include the IVF base fees, medications, egg retrieval procedure, and anesthesia.
Once you start the IVF treatment cycle, you will begin going into the clinic every few days for an ultrasound and bloodwork and you’ll also take daily injectable hormone medications. Appointment costs are usually part of the IVF base fees.
Most clinics charge a lump sum for an IVF cycle, covering things like ultrasound and bloodwork monitoring, the egg retrieval procedure, and embryo creation. What is included in the base fee varies from clinic to clinic.
Medications are usually a separate fee paid directly to the pharmacy. The medication cost varies depending on what medication protocol your doctor chooses for you and how many days you take the ovarian stimulation medications based on your body’s response. On average, the medication cost makes up about 15% of the total cost of the treatment cycle.
To save money, it is best to order your medication in smaller batches rather than a large amount up front. That way you can order as you go and avoid paying for extra medication that you won’t end up using.
Once the doctor determines that your eggs are ready to be retrieved, you’ll be scheduled for an Egg Retrieval procedure. The procedure is done under IV Anesthesia. The cost for anesthesia may or may not be included in the IVF base fee. At some clinics, you will pay for the anesthesia separately. This fee, if paid separately, tends to be a very small portion of the total per treatment cycle at around 2%.
If you want to dive deeper into what you can expect during IVF, check out our article here.
Following egg retrieval, the eggs are fertilized in the embryology lab. The Fertilization of the eggs occurs by combining the sperm with the eggs and allowing the sperm to naturally fertilize each egg or, if there are issues with the sperm count or quality, the lab will do a procedure known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), where one sperm is injected into each egg to fertilize it. Natural fertilization typically does not incur additional costs outside of the IVF base fee. ICSI, on the other hand, adds an additional cost to the standard IVF cycle, but is the best way to overcome many male factor fertility issues.
The embryos are cultured in the lab for 5-7 days before being frozen. Prior to freezing the embryos, there is the option to genetically test them to confirm that they are chromosomally normal. This optional test is known as PGT (Preimplantation Genetic Testing) and comes with an additional price tag of a few thousand dollars. The exact cost depends on which genetics lab is doing the testing and can also depend on how many embryos are being analyzed.
It's important to discuss with your doctor if doing PGT is worth the extra cost for you based on your age and personal and family medical history.
ICSI and PGT are not part of every IVF cycle. The addition of these techniques makes up just over 16% of the total cost of one treatment cycle when they are both included in your treatment.
When you create embryos in an IVF cycle, the embryos are frozen and stored until you’re ready to thaw an embryo to transfer into the uterus to try to conceive. The process of freezing the embryos is a one time fee that makes up about 6% of the cost. The storage fee is typically charged yearly and can vary by clinic. It usually makes up only about 2% of the total cost paid during the first year.
Whenever you’re ready to try to conceive, you can work with your clinic to plan a Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle (FET). Frozen embryo transfers require ultrasound and bloodwork monitoring as well as their own set of medications. The FET cycle and medication makes up just under 18% of the total cost.
All of these stages, from preparation, to the ovarian stimulation, to the retrieval, and the eventual embryo transfer, come with their own fees. Many factors affect the overall cost of the process, like which precycle tests your doctor recommends, how long you need to take the medications during your stimulation cycle, and if you choose to do genetic testing.
Getting pregnant through IVF can become quite expensive as you add the cost of each component. Let’s check out a sample breakdown of each aspect from consult to embryo transfer and what the estimated cost is:
Planning to start an IVF cycle is a big undertaking, especially when it comes to finances. There are few ways to help make covering the cost a bit more manageable.
Covering the cost of fertility treatment is most often done using loans. Some patients borrow against their home or retirement account. There are also companies that assist in initiating loans explicitly for fertility treatment. All of these loans allow you to pay for the treatment upfront and then pay back the loan over time using recurrent payments.
There are many foundations that have grants set up to assist with fertility treatment costs. Couples can apply for the grants to cover all or some of the fees associated with fertility treatment and medications.
Not all grants are available to everyone. Many of the programs have certain criteria to be able to qualify, like getting treatment at a certain clinic, living in a certain area, or demonstrating financial need. You should always ask your clinic if they know of any grants that may be available to you, or you can check some of them out here through Resolve: The National Fertility Organization.
Many clinics, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies offer discounts and rebates for active duty or military veterans. If this applies to you, be sure to look into which discounts are available!
Some fertility treatment costs may be tax deductible. According to FertilitySpace, “You can write-off eligible medical expenses, such as IVF, that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.” This means that depending on how much money you make annually and how much you spent on fertility treatment in the last year, you may be able to write off a portion of your treatment expenses. The best way to make sure you accurately document and file your tax information and medical expenses is to seek assistance from an accountant when preparing your taxes.
Insurance coverage can be a massive help when it comes to paying for fertility treatments. Depending on the plan, fertility benefits may be a small part of your regular health insurance coverage or may be a full separate policy through a fertility insurance company.
Talk with your human resources department about what options your employer offers for fertility benefits or insurance. If your company does offer coverage, be sure to enroll in these benefits in preparation for upcoming treatment.
Important questions to ask about your fertility insurance coverage:
Is coverage based on a dollar amount or number of cycles?
Are medication costs covered?
Are there any requirements for coverage?
Some insurances require a certain number of unsuccessful IUIs before they will cover an IVF cycle.
What happens if my employment ends during my treatment?
What clinics take my insurance?
What are the limitations of my coverage?
Getting to know the ins and outs of your personal fertility benefits plan can help you make the most of your coverage.
Wrapping your mind around the cost of IVF can be tough. It's hard to know where all of the money goes and which part of treatment you can expect to carry the largest bill. Knowing what to expect and some payment options can help you know how to plan.