The True Cost of IVF: Uncover the Biggest Myths About Cheap IVF
July 2nd, 2019 | 7 min. read
Without question, fertility treatment isn’t cheap. Or to put it another way, quality treatment – which gives you access to all the available science and technology, along with guidance from a reproductive endocrinologist – isn’t cheap.
The lure of less expensive fertility treatment is inescapable. The medicine and support involved in making fertility treatment real and viable, however, is costly. Clinics that cut corners to reduce costs may not offer the level of treatment and results you may be expecting. Hope recently surged for lower-cost fertility treatment after a Wall Street Journal article featured a New York clinic that advertises in vitro fertilization (IVF) for 30% to 50% less than average.
Dig a little deeper into the article, though, and you find that the clinic’s posted prices don’t include the medicines required before and during an IVF cycle. The clinic director also acknowledged that he hires fewer doctors than other practices. As a result, patients often consult with a nurse practitioner rather than a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist.
This article will help you compare the costs and services of fertility clinics you may be exploring. (And if you know how much it all costs and need help affording, don't forget you have access to grants and loans, opportunity plans, and other opportunities for fertility coverage.)
What Will IVF Cost Me?
The average cost of an IVF cycle is around $18,000, when including medications and monitoring (bloodwork and ultrasound). Genetic testing could add another $1,500 to $3,000.
Fees vary based on states, regions and insurance coverage. You should talk about price with any clinic you interview, of course. Just as important, ask about what the charges cover, because services can vary widely. And even before investigating costs, determine what your insurance will pay for. It takes more than a simple phone call and probably will involve several steps. But you will be much more confident in your financial dealings surrounding treatment after you dig in.
Some insurance coverage depends on state law where you live. Connecticut and New York both mandate that insurance companies cover some fertility treatment. Even if you live in a state that doesn’t provide extended coverage, many insurance policies will cover some testing or medicines if you have met your annual deductible. A full-service fertility center will have staff to assist you in dealing with insurance companies and may also help you find grants and other financial resources that may be available.
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A Breakdown of IVF Costs
A fertility center will quote you a price for the IVF procedure itself, that includes an egg retrieval, fertilization of the eggs in a lab, and then transferring the fertilized egg (the embryo) into your uterus. Additional costs are for the medication, which encourages the production of multiple eggs and, later, prepares your body to accept a fertilized egg. The medicines will cost you anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000.
Some patients may also consider genetic testing on the embryos to ensure a healthy, chromosomally normal embryo is transferred. This is called Preimplantation Genetic Testing, or PGT, and may be suggested if you’ve had a previous miscarriage, complicated family health history, or if you are a known carrier of certain conditions. It costs anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000.
You may decide to freeze embryos for use in subsequent cycles. Thawing frozen embryos and using them to transfer into the uterus to achieve a pregnancy is called a Frozen Embryo Transfer, or FET. Since the embryos are already created, you do not expensive medication to stimulate your ovaries, just the medications that help support a pregnancy, which are much less costly.
When you investigate a low-cost IVF clinic, ask about whether any of those charges are included, and what they charge for them. Also make sure you ask whether their quoted charge includes necessary procedures such as:
- Initial baseline blood work and ultrasound to start your cycle
- As many in-cycle monitoring appointments as your cycle requires (blood work and ultrasounds during morning monitoring hours)
- All laboratory procedures. Some clinics send their work out to nearby labs, while comprehensive clinics have labs within their facilities. After researching several fertility centers in our region, we’ve compiled the following IVF cost guidelines to assist with your evaluation of different centers.
IVF Treatment Cycle Cost Range: $12,850 to $24,250
See a more detailed breakdown of estimated IVF cost factors below:
- Medications = $3,500 to $5,500
- Bloodwork & ultrasound (monitoring) = $2,000 to $3,500
- Egg Retrieval = $2,000 to $3,000
- Anesthesia = $350 to $750 (varies based on time units)
- Laboratory fees (egg clean, culture, sperm prep, hatching) = $2,000 to $4,000
- ICSI = $1,500 to $2,500
- Cost of FET = $1,500 to $5,000
- Cost of donor sperm (if applicable) varies dependent on donor selected = $500 to $1,000
- Preimplantation genetic testing = $1,500 to 3,000
- Oocyte storage = $600 to $1,000 annually
- Consultation (no insurance) = $300 to $750
*Cost can vary by region, state and insurance coverage
IVF Testing & Consult Cost Range: $2,050 to $4,000
See a more detailed breakdown of estimated IVF consultation and testing charges below:
- Consultation (no insurance) = $300 to $750
- HSG = $850 to $1,500
- Sonohysterogram = $450 to $850
- Vaginal ultrasound = $250 to $450
- Semen analysis = $200 to $450
*Cost can vary by region, state and insurance coverage
Why Do IVF Costs Vary in IVF Clinics?
IVF and fertility treatment in general has become much more complex and sophisticated since the first “test tube baby” changed our ideas about infertility 40 years ago. Some regions offer generally lower IVF costs because of competition. In New York and Boston-metro regions there is a higher volume of fertility centers which increases competition and keeps prices lower. In both San Francisco and Chicago, individual clinics have more market share, making it hard to get competitive pricing for patients. And while state mandates on insurance coverage are helpful to individuals and couples who need IVF, a report by a public policy agency EmpireCenter.org suggests that mandates slightly increase the costs of the procedure in those states.
When you find differing costs in clinics that are in the same state or region, price differences reflect the depth of the offered treatment.
Why support is important: Justine Houle describes her first IVF cycle. She had taken the medication to promote egg development in her ovaries and was preparing to give herself the “trigger shot” of medicine that will prepare her for the next steps.
I know they say you shouldn’t rush through life, but I think fertility treatment might just be the exception to that rule! … The exhaustion finally hit me; the process had worn me down (without me even realizing it) and I was ready for the retrieval to be over… The “what ifs” were would I be able to give myself 3 more shots? But, the “I know” won out - I would do whatever was needed.
The core of IVF is the gathering of eggs, fertilization and implantation.
The support you get, and the quality of that support, is the variable that affects price.
A center that offers comprehensive treatment will have a board-certified endocrinologist available to answer your questions. It will also offer well-trained nurses to answer medication questions and provide support each step of the way, a team of wellness professionals who will be available for advice on nutrition, stress management, emotional support including, and how to respond to Aunt Harriet when she gets too nosy and begins asking about your baby plans across the holiday dinner table.
In addition to the qualifications of doctors including Bard Certifications, laboratories should be accredited by the College of American Pathologists to meet standards set by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act. And the program should report its annual success rates to the federal Centers for Disease Control and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.
IVF Costs vs. Cohesive Care?
A lot is at stake when you are undergoing fertility treatment. When researching the real cost of IVF, there are a lot of things to consider. You should ask questions about how much monitoring the clinic will do during crucial periods of treatment, and how much blood work is included in the base price.
Will a doctor read the results of the blood work or will it be a technician? Will your doctor be caring for you throughout the process, or only be involved during egg retrieval and implantation? Will you be responsible to work with other doctor’s offices to handle some of your testing or diagnostic work that is not included in their price? Will you need to coordinate your care across different offices, providers and labs or do they offer a comprehensive treatment package that provides cohesive medical care?
What if IVF Doesn’t Work?
IVF is the most successful treatment for infertility. Recognizing that you may go through IVF treatment and not bring home a baby might temper your enthusiasm about spending any more than the minimum on IVF.
It is difficult to balance optimism with a sense of reality. However, comprehensive clinics offer the 360-degree service that helps you throughout the process – and better prepares you for all possible outcomes.
What is Affordable IVF?
In addition to financing through the clinic, you can also consider money-back policies that many comprehensive clinics offer. They usually come in some variation of this form: Pay for three IVF treatments. If they don’t result in a baby, the cost of IVF, minus the cost of medication and optional testing, will be refunded.
Such programs can make IVF a more affordable bet. If you get pregnant after one cycle, however, you have spent more than you would have if you pay for just one cycle at a time.
Want more information on how you can afford IVF care, no matter your clinic?
- How to Pay for IVF Treatment without Insurance
- Understanding Your Fertility Coverage and How to Use It
- Insurance? Benefits? and Costs? Oh my! - The IVF Edition
Interested in more information on how much your fertility treatment will cost?
Schedule a consultation to get all of your questions answered.
Virginia Hamilton Furnari is Illume Fertility's former Brand Specialist. In addition to helping mold the Illume Fertility brand through blogs, videos, and events, she was also a patient at Illume. Given her professional and personal involvement in the fertility community, she has immersed her mind, body, and soul in family-building education.