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Successful Fertility Treatment: How Much Will It Cost You?

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Before you begin your fertility treatments, hundreds of questions are probably running through your mind. What fertility tests will you go through? What kinds of fertility treatments will work best for you? And lurking at the back of your mind, how much will these fertility treatments cost?

Fertility treatment cost, is an important consideration when beginning your fertility treatment process, especially since only 15 states mandate infertility insurance. While fertility treatment and IVF costs vary depending on fertility clinic, type of treatment, and infertility diagnosis, it can still be helpful to have a ballpark figure on which to base an estimated cost.

A new study has set out to provide infertility patients with just that.

The New Study on Fertility Treatment Costs

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco studied the average costs of fertility treatments for California women over the span of 18 months. The study, which was published in the March issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility, was the first to evaluate successful fertility treatment costs for a full range of fertility treatments and services over a certain time period.

“The information can help women gauge what their costs might be once they embark on fertility treatment, especially if they know which treatment path they may be using,” says study author Patti Katz, Ph.D.

The study followed nearly 400 women from eight fertility clinics in California over the span of 18 months. Around 20 percent of these women received non-cycle based fertility treatment, like fertility tests or reproductive surgery. The women who did pursue cycle-based treatment received fertility drugs, intrauterine insemination with clomiphene citrate (IUI-CC), intrauterine insemination with follicle stimulating hormone (IUI-FSH), in vitro fertilization (IVF), or IVF with donor eggs (IVF-DE).

Around 30 percent of the women received successful fertility treatments, which was defined as delivering a child or achieving an ongoing pregnancy within the 18 months of the study. The number of women with successful outcomes jumped to 46 percent when looking at women who received cycle-based treatment.

The costs of fertility treatments varied depending on which cycle-based treatment was chosen. For example, the average cost of a medication-only cycle was $1,182, while the cost of one cycle of IVF was $24,373. IVF with donor eggs cost even more, averaging $38,015.

When looking at the cost of successful fertility treatments, the number grew higher. The average cost of successful medication-only treatment was $5,894 and $61,377 for IVF. Again, the cost of successful donor egg IVF was even higher, at $72,642. Women who chose cycle-based treatment received an average of 3.6 treatments.

“Hopefully, patients can use studies like this to obtain a more realistic picture about both prospects for successful treatment, and the expense associated with it,” said Sean Tipton, the director of public affairs for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The High Cost of Fertility Treatments

Looking at the average costs of successful fertility treatment can be daunting. However, according to Tipton, the cost of fertility treatments is not any more expensive than other medical interventions. Instead, the problem arises when considering the lack of insurance contribution.

“Most patients with health insurance will not have to pay if they trip and break a leg,” says Tipton. “However, since so many employers allow insurance companies to not cover the disease of infertility, individual patients are faced with paying for their own treatments.”

According to related research by Katz and her team, many other developed countries have recognized infertility as a medical condition and have made provisions within national health care systems to cover it. As of 2000, countries that provide public funding for IVF costs include Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

Since IVF has been labeled as “experimental,” many insurance plans in the U.S. do not cover its costs. Only 15 states have infertility insurance mandates in place, which require employers to either provide fertility treatment coverage or to offer coverage for the costs.

Because of the lack of insurance coverage, the costs of fertility treatments fall to the individuals and couples. According to the study by Katz that looked into the economic impact of fertility treatments, couples in the U.S. cover 85 percent of the cost of IVF, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

“Given that fertility treatments are generally not covered by health insurance, or covered only in a limited fashion, the costs we estimated will clearly place constraints on the ability of many individuals to access treatment,” says Katz.