How to Compare Fertility Treatment Options

Aspiring parents often find it challenging to compare the costs of various fertility procedures such as in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination and egg freezing.

That’s because the cost of fertility treatments run the gamut depending on the procedure, location, medications used, insurance coverage and other factors.

Still, there are some strategies couples and individuals can use to get a sense of their fertility procedure costs, which can help them make a plan to pay for them. Here’s what to know.

[Read: The Cost of Birth Control.]

The Cost of IVF

Average cost: $10,000 to $15,000.

In vitro fertilization, commonly called IVF, involves a series of medical procedures during which a woman’s eggs are retrieved, fertilized and transferred to the uterus, all in the hopes of achieving pregnancy.

The average cost of IVF in the U.S. is $10,000 to $15,000, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

That said, the out-of-pocket cost will increase if the patient undergoes additional procedures, uses certain medications and receives additional testing. “It totally varies,” says Arielle Spiegel, founder of CoFertility, an online platform aimed at uncomplicating the fertility treatment process with resources, tools and content.

“It could run you $10,000. Or it could run you upwards of $30,000 when all is said and done,” Spiegel says.

One major cost factor is the medication prescribed to the patient. Depending on the type, it can cost thousands of dollars. “Some patients may need more medications to stimulate their ovaries than others, and that could increase their costs,” says Dr. Tony Propst, an Austin, Texas-based reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Texas Fertility Center. Ultrasounds and bloodwork cost extra, too.

Undergoing additional procedures to enhance the sperm’s chances of insemination, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, physiological intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or PICSI, can also swell costs. Additionally, patients who have their eggs or embryos genetically tested may pay an additional $5,000 or so, Propst says.

Donor sperm or donor eggs cost extra. For example, securing donor eggs may cost hopeful parents up to an additional $30,000, says Jake Anderson-Bialis, co-founder of FertilityIQ, a resource for fertility costs and doctor reviews.

[Read: Costs to Consider When Adopting a Pet]

The Cost of IUI

Average cost: $500 to $4,000.

Intrauterine insemination, or IUI, is a fertility treatment in which sperm is injected in a woman’s uterus. This procedure is typically less invasive than IVF and may be offered first to patients or required by insurance before reimbursing IVF.

The cost of IUI ranges between $500 and $4,000, according to FertilityIQ. But, just like with IVF, true costs will vary depending on a range of factors.

Medications, both oral and injected, can boost the cost by anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks to a few thousand dollars. The cost really is “a function of the intensity of the drugs you couple the IUI with,” Anderson-Bialis says.

Some patients may be able to time IUI treatment with their natural ovulation cycle, which is typically cheaper. Others may need to take oral medications or injections to facilitate the process, which is more expensive.

Ultrasounds and the use of donor sperm will also inflate the expense. Many patients undergo multiple rounds of IUI, so savvy savers should have enough squirreled away to cover repeated attempts.

The Cost of Egg Freezing

Average cost: $8,000 to $10,000.

Egg freezing is a process that hedges against future infertility, involving the retrieval of a woman’s eggs, freezing and storage for later use. Months or years down the road, the egg is thawed, fertilized and implanted in the uterus via IVF.

“You’re effectively doing two-thirds of the IVF process,” Anderson-Bialis says. “So you’re paying for two-thirds of the IVF process.”

Egg freezing costs from $8,000 to $10,000, with individual expenses depending on the medications used, outside lab testing and bloodwork.

Secondary costs will include storage, which can run $500 to $1,000 per year, and the potential for using donor sperm. Anderson-Bialis notes that storage can add up. Eggs stored at $1,000 per year from the ages of 30 to 45 will cost $15,000. That’s no small price.

Additionally, the second half of the IVF process will be necessary to implant the fertilized eggs, so patients should plan for that eventuality.

Multiple rounds of egg freezing may be required if insufficient eggs are retrieved the first time, and insurance may not cover it unless you’re dealing with fertility preservation for medical reasons, such as before undergoing chemotherapy.

[Read: How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?]

The Cost of Surrogacy

Average cost: $75,000 or more.

Using a gestational carrier involves having a third-party woman carry and deliver a child who is genetically not related to her.

The process, also called surrogacy, can run about $75,000, says Propst. “A gestational carrier is definitely the most expensive thing,” he says.

Costs vary depending on a range of factors, including whether the carrier is a stranger or, say, a family member who waives the fee.

IVF treatments will typically be required, plus fees for lawyers, potential fees for donor sperm and other add-ons. Anderson-Bialis also notes that travel expenses, if the surrogate lives out of state, and buying a separate insurance policy for the gestational carrier can inflate costs.

A highly sought-after surrogate, such as someone who has done this before and is willing to carry multiple embryos, can also boost the price.

How to Compare Fertility Treatment Costs

Couples and individuals who want to start or grow their families may find that making an apples-to-apples comparison of fertility treatment costs is difficult. The plan for treatment, their individual diagnosis, location, insurance coverage and other factors will impact out-of-pocket cost.

One major factor to consider is your insurance coverage, which may cover all, some or none of a fertility treatment. Aspiring parents should note that 18 states have laws related to the insurance coverage of fertility treatments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Additionally, your employer may have a benefits package that includes some level of coverage for infertility procedures.

But it’ll be up to you to determine what is covered by your individual insurance. “There have been times when I have had to sit on the phone and hound my insurance company for hours and hours,” says Spiegel, who recently had her son via IVF.

Be sure to shop around if you have the time and request an itemized list of costs from any clinic or facility you’re considering. Spiegel says she did get a second opinion when she did IVF. “Ask questions and don’t be afraid of bombarding your doctor or, if your clinic has a financial team or advisor, (asking them) to make sure you’re super, super clear on all the costs involved,” Spiegel says. “Because you don’t want to be surprised.”

Facilities may offer their own financing options, but take a comprehensive look at your financial resources first. You may find that tapping savings, taxable investment accounts, a Roth IRA, even the Bank of Mom and Dad are preferable options to taking on debt. It’s important to only borrow what you can repay. “The costs do not end once you have your baby,” Spiegel says.

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How to Compare Fertility Treatment Options originally appeared on usnews.com

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