Ways to Pay Less (and Get Cash) for IVF Treatment

Finding Discounts, Price Shopping, and Seeking Finacial Help to Cover IVF Costs

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IVF costs add up quickly. Just one cycle can cost anywhere from $10,000 up to $25,000, depending on what specific IVF technologies you need. One study found that the average couple spent $19,000 in out-of-pocket expenses IVF. For each additional cycle, a couple's out-of-pocket expenses went up an average of $7,000.

Considering that some couples may need up to three IVF cycles to get pregnant, plus the unfortunate fact that even high-tech IVF is no guarantee—it’s enough to make your head spin. How can you afford costs like these?

Before you walk away from IVF, consider these seven tips for making the costs slightly more affordable.

Read Your Insurance Plan Carefully

You may be eligible for at least partial coverage of the cost for infertility treatments. Most insurance companies are not interested in making this information clear.

Don’t assume insurance won’t cover you. Many fertility doctors and clinics take insurance. If they don't, you can still apply for reimbursement yourself.

Even if IVF itself isn’t covered, certain aspects of your treatment might be. For example, your insurance might cover your ultrasounds or some lab tests.

Read your policy carefully—including the small print. Pay attention to any limits and coverage requirements. This information will help you to do your best at staying within your plan's rules.

If you still have questions after you’ve read your policy all the way through, call the company directly to ask. For example, if the company denies coverage for infertility treatments but you read in your policy that these treatments are covered, you can talk to someone and get clarification.

In fact, many insurance companies have designated fertility nurses on staff to help customers navigate coverage questions and issues related to IVF.

You may also want to consider contacting the human resources (HR) department at your place of employment. While there are disadvantages and advantages of letting your employer know that you are trying to get pregnant, HR might be able to provide you with more information about your health benefits—including whether they cover IVF expenses.

Use Your Flexible-Spending Account or Health Savings Plan

Another option is tapping into a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings plan (HSA) if you have one. FSAs are an employee benefit some companies offer that lets you set aside part of your pre-tax income for specially designated uses, such as medical expenses that are not covered by insurance.

HSAs are another way to put aside some of your pre-tax income to use toward medical expenses. You're likely to have an HSA if you signed up for a high deductible insurance plan.

One of the big differences between an FSA and an HSA is that funds put into an FSA can’t be carried over from one year to the next. If you don’t use the funds, you lose them. With an HSA, funds do carry over. If you’ve been carrying funds over for years, you might have a good amount of cash saved that could be put toward IVF.

There may be limits on what kinds of medical treatments can be paid for with an FSA or HSA, but fertility treatments are usually included. Talk to your employer to find out more.

Price Shop and Negotiate

You'll want to consider more than success rates when you're choosing a fertility clinic. Ideally, you want a clinic that can give you the treatment you need at a cost you can afford. Don’t be afraid to call other clinics and find out what they can offer you. It’s natural to feel loyal to the doctor you’ve been seeing for a while, but you also need to consider your family's financial health.

When comparing prices, ask clinics to clearly identify what is included and what is not. If you're looking at two clinics and one seems to have a higher fee, but that fee includes the cost of ultrasounds and blood work (while the other clinic's fee does not include these services), that's like comparing apples to oranges.

You can also try negotiating with a clinic. If you have been offered a better price at another clinic, but prefer the more expensive one, ask the clinic you want if they will come down on the price. 

Another cost you'll need to factor in is your travel expenses. You might like a clinic and they might give you a great price, but if the cost of traveling there and the lost income from taking time off work would negate the advantages, you might need to reconsider.

Medical Tourism for IVF

Another option for reduced cost IVF treatment is medical tourism. This requires you to travel to another country for fertility treatment. Traveling abroad for IVF might seem like it would be a more expensive option, but sometimes it's cheaper than if you were to go to a clinic across town (even after you include plane tickets and hotels).

Couples who enjoy traveling might take the opportunity for a vacation. That said, researching a fertility clinic abroad can be tricky. If you're not careful, you could be scammed.

Practice due diligence with your research. Remember: just because a clinic has a website doesn't mean there is a real clinic behind it. Make phone calls, get references, and consider locations with an abundance of caution.

Save Money When Buying Fertility Drugs

Fertility drugs make up a huge percentage of overall IVF costs. You might be able to get discounts or better prices if you do a little research. One option is purchasing fertility drugs from a specialty pharmacy.

One example is DesignRx®, which will help you negotiate the best price if you’re a member (membership is free).

Another way to save money on fertility drugs is to look into discount programs and mail-in-refund programs that are offered by some pharmaceutical companies.

For example, EMD Serono (the maker of Gonal-F) offers a few programs to help people save on fertility drug costs. Some programs are for self-pay patients, while others can be used along with insurance.

Ferring Reproductive Health—maker of Bravelle, Menopur, Endometrin, and Novarel—also has a discount program.

The process can take time, so be sure to apply to a program before you need to purchase the medications.

Consider Shared Risk or IVF Refund Programs

Choosing a shared-risk or refund IVF program may help you recoup your costs if treatments aren’t successful.

With this method, you pay upfront for multiple IVF treatments (the average being three cycles though it can be more or less). The clinic or shared-risk program will promise to refund all (or part) of the money if you do not have a successful IVF cycle within the number of cycles you paid for upfront.

These programs frequently cost more per cycle than you would pay without the refund guarantee but knowing that you’ll get the money back if the cycle doesn't take can be comforting.

Another benefit is that if the treatments fail, you’ll be able to use some of the funds to put toward future treatments, other fertility-related procedures, or an alternative like adoption.

Fertility Grants and Scholarships

You can also think about applying for a fertility grant or scholarship. While these options rarely cover all the costs of IVF, and the application fees can be expensive, it’s an option you might want to consider.

Fertility grants and scholarships are far from "free money." The qualifications for the grant can be quite strict, and since application fees can be high, you'll want to think about it carefully before applying.

Some grants or scholarships require you to be open and willing to share your IVF story. For example, they might ask that you allow your experience (and therefore aspects of your private life) to be documented with photography and/or video, or have a story be written about your journey.

In a similar vein, some clinics will hold a raffle for a "free IVF cycle" if you come to an informational session. However, you should know that these "free" cycles come with strings attached, such as being willing to share your story publicly. Make sure you know what you're accepting if you are lucky enough to win one.

Crowdfunding for IVF

You've probably received crowdfunding requests from friends or at least seen crowdfunding campaigns shared on social media. Crowdfunding is essentially getting funding from “the crowd." It requires asking your friends, family, and co-workers for support.

If you're successful with it, crowdfunding might help you raise some (or even all) of the money that you need for IVF. That said, crowdfunding isn’t for everyone. For one, it requires that you already have a wide social network. Good marketing skills help, too.

Some people assume crowdfunding is easy—just create a GoFund me page and the money magically flows towards you. In reality, succeeding at crowdfunding for IVF requires hard work, a large circle of influence, and good storytelling skills.

Borrow the Cash

You might consider borrowing money to pay for IVF treatments. Borrowing options go beyond credit cards and might involve dipping into retirement funds, taking out a home equity loan or a medical loan, or even asking mom or dad for cash.

Every option has its pros and cons, which you'll want to weigh carefully. Finally, be sure that you have a pay-back plan for any cash you borrow—you don't want to lose your car or house just after having a baby.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wu AK, Odisho AY, Washington SL, Katz PP, Smith JF. Out-of-pocket fertility patient expense: data from a multicenter prospective infertility cohort. J Urol. 2014;191(2):427-32.  doi:10.1016/j.juro.2013.08.083

  2. Healthcare.gov. Understanding key health insurance terms.

  3. Healthcare.gov. Using a flexible spending account (FSA).

  4. Healthcare.gov. Health savings account (HSA).

  5. Yildiz MS, Khan MM. Opportunities for reproductive tourism: cost and quality advantages of Turkey in the provision of in-vitro Fertilization (IVF) services. BMC Health Serv Res. 2016;16(a):378.  doi:10.1186/s12913-016-1628-7

  6. The National Infertility Association. Infertility treatment grants and scholarships.

  7. Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information. Understanding crowdfunding. October 2019.

Additional Reading
  • Andrews, Michelle. 4 Ways to Save on Your Medical Bills. US News Health. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-health-and-money/2008/08/21/4-ways-to-save-on-your-medical-bills

  • Andrews, Michelle. How Health Law Affects Fertility Treatment, Health Savings Accounts. NPR.org. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/10/22/239672470/how-health-law-will-affect-ivf-fertility-treatment-health-savings-accounts-irs 

  • Attain® IVF Program. IntegraMed®. http://attainfertility.com/article/ivf-costs

  • Charlesworth, Liza.  “The Couple's Guide To In Vitro Fertilization: Everything You Need To Know To Maximize Your Chances Of Success.” Da Capo Press; 1 edition (May 4, 2004).
  • Discounted Medication Programs. Shady Grove Fertility. http://www.shadygrovefertility.com/discounted-medication-programs
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