Spoiler Alert - IVF Is Expensive!
Okay, but let's be honest, you knew that already. Everybody knows that.
Think back to your first reaction when you heard about someone you know tried IVF. You're initial response was probably something like "OMG, how did they afford that?" or.... "there is no way, I could ever afford that!"
I felt the same way - I never thought in a million years I would be able to come up with the funds to pursue my dreams of having a baby. But, somehow, I did.
It wasn't easy.
And, it wasn't all at once.
And it definitely wasn't by the help of any insurance coverage - grrr! Sadly, most insurance plans do not cover any fertility treatments (unless you work for a multi-million dollar corporation and happen to sit on the executive board. Double GRRRR! Can you tell I'm bitter about this topic?
When I was first diagnosed with infertility, my first thought was - UM, NO! How are we ever going to come up with $15k for IVF? We'll never be able to afford having a baby! Oh, and then by the time the baby is actually born, we'll be flat broke!
The sticker-shock can be very overwhelming, unless, you are Kim Kardashian, I suppose.
Okay, sorry for getting all worked up. The money topic is a big one.
I ask that you take a deep breath with me. Ahhhhh. We're going to get through this. No, I'm not loaning you money, but I do have some tips to share that I learned along the way.
Your first step is to find out what your insurance carrier actually does cover.
For example, my plan covered my "diagnosis", which is basically NOTHING, but I was able to get my initial tests covered. My first doctor was willing to work with me to include some of the initial ultra-sounds in this portion also. I saved a couple of hundred dollars. Woopty-fucking-doo.
But, my plan sucks majorly. Chances are, you have better coverage that I do. I live in Southern California, so I'm assuming the pricing is also a bit higher here than other places, but I want to share with you what I know.
Find out what's covered. Talk to your HR department. Talk to your insurance carrier. Talk to other women that have the same plan that you know went through fertility treatments (if possible). Get all the information that is out there.
Some states are mandated and are required to have some sort of insurance coverage. CLICK HERE to find out what your state requires.
Also, keep in mind that most doctors have a "cash price" which is different from the "insurance price". Make sure to ask for both.
Next, weigh your options by the costs and the risk.
Depending on your financial situation, and/or your level of risk taking, you might want to start with a less expensive/higher risk option and work your way up to the more expensive/less risk option. That's what I did. But, I will tell you, I have some regrets about this.
I did 5 rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) and with all the meds, was about $2,500 a pop. Do the math - that's a total of $12,500. IUI has a very low percentage of success, hence the lower price.
$12,500 in the hole year one - no baby.
However, I'm glad I tried it at least once, or maybe twice. Had it worked, I would have been thrilled! I know people that have gotten pregnant on the first try with IUI. It happens! AND, more an more insurance plans are starting to cover the costs of IUI. I have a couple of friends with Kaiser, that get these treatments covered completely - meds and all!
Your medical diagnosis and your fertility test results will help you figure out which route to try first, second, etc.
But here's the deal. Had I tried IUI once, maybe twice that would have cost me $5k and then skipped to IVF at about $15k, I'd be in the hole $20k with much better odd of having a baby. For example, the doctor I ended up choosing for IVF had a 65% success rate for women in my age group, using their own eggs and for women under 35, the success rate was even higher, at 75%. These are pretty high numbers compared to the debilitating stats of IUI, reporting under 2%.
And NO I didn't forget a zero. TWO FUCKING PERCENT!
You might as well grab a drink, spread your legs and break out the turkey baster!
I constantly ask myself... WHY did I spend all that time and money on IUI? Why did I do this to myself 5 fucking times!? Don't do what I did! Well, unless your insurance covers it, then, you do you! I can assure you, it will still take a HUGE toll on your emotional state. You really need to ask yourself if it's worth it.
If you have good eggs, or using donor eggs, IVF is a very probable way to go. Still no guarantees of course, but very probable.
Let me sum this up for you...
5 IUI's = $12,500 (2% chance)
1 IVF = $15k (65% chance)
Do the math. Take control of your journey and your finances.
Trust, we don't just have an extra $15k laying around. We have had to take out loans each step of the way and refinance our house. This is why these stats are so important. If you are like us, with minimal finances, you need to spend your money wisely.
It's not always easy to know when to move on and take the plunge. Try to get in a habit of taking a step back after each step and assessing cost vs. risk. Money is a big part of this journey, and we need to be armed with the right information to make good financial decisions, despite the emotional costs of this journey.
You WILL get through this and you WILL get stronger along the way.
I am almost to the point where I treat my fertility finances as it's own business. I have a an entire google drive folder dedicated to cost analysis spreadsheets on IUI, IVF, Egg Donors, Doctors, etc. I have a filing cabinet dedicated to medical records, doctors appointments, receipts, etc.
But, I didn't get here overnight. I'm a veteran now. My doctor actually said those words to me in one of recent "meetings". He called me a "veteran". I think that was his way of saying he was impressed? Fuck, I don't know. I'll take it though. I think I impressed him, at least.
I'm sharing this information with you, as a IUI, IVF, Egg Donor veteran, hoping you can learn from my mistakes and make smart choices for your family.
As Biggie says - "mo money, mo problems". However, in the world of infertility, it's quite the opposite. But, you will get through this. Take it from a veteran. :)