Fertility treatment puts many families into debt. Here’s how to handle it.

The scientific community has come a long way when it comes to fertility treatments. Year after year, countless families turn to specialists and assisted reproductive technologies to have children, and people are increasingly open to discussing their experiences with the process.

But despite how advanced and standardized these options are, there remains a serious barrier to entry: cost.

“Fertility treatment can be terribly expensive,” Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree, told HuffPost. He quoted a 2020 report from the Center for Reproductive Rights who found that the median cost of a single IVF cycle in the United States is $19,200.

“That’s an incredibly high total, especially considering that many women need multiple cycles to become pregnant and there’s no guarantee of success no matter how many cycles you go through. “, added Schulz. “Given these costs, it’s no wonder many people say they simply can’t afford fertility treatments. It really is nothing short of heartbreaking.

Of course, the cost range may vary depending on where you live and your individual needs for blood work, injections, egg retrieval, ongoing monitoring, etc. But each step adds up, and it’s not uncommon for patients to rack up thousands, if not tens of thousands, of debt dollars to cover disbursements.

Yet, is it possible to pursue fertility treatment without incurring serious financial setbacks? Below, Schulz and other experts share their tips for avoiding or minimizing the burden.

Establish your budget.

The first step in managing any financial decision is to determine your budget. Calculate your income and expenses each month to determine what you are currently able to spend and any changes you might make to account for fertility treatment payments.

“It may sound simple, but a budget is the starting point,” Schulz said. “You can’t make a meaningful plan to tackle debt unless you know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of your household each month. Once you know this, you can start prioritizing where your money is going, whether it’s saving for potential treatment, saving more money to pay off debt, or for any other reason.

Check your benefits.

“It sucks it has to be like this, but the truth is that it’s pretty much up to people seeking treatment to turn over every stone and exhaust all options to seek treatment that’s safe, reliable, and cheaper,” Schulz said. “Check if your employer’s benefits cover these treatments. It’s more common than you might think. Find out about your insurance coverage.

Although comprehensive IVF coverage can be difficult to find, some insurance companies cover other parts of the fertility treatment process, such as diagnostic tests and other assessments. There have also been recent advances in employer-provided benefits.

“According Fertility IQthere is an 8% year-over-year increase in the number of large employers offering additional coverage for family planning, including IVF treatments, egg freezing and adoption,” said Nicole Carson, financial planner at Brunch & budget. “It’s becoming increasingly popular in employee benefits as employers seek to attract and retain top diverse talent.”

She thinks more employers will add family planning benefits to their offerings as the job market remains competitive.

Fertility treatments like IVF can cost families tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.

Research government programs.

“There are ways to save money on IVF treatments,” Carson said. “Because prices depend on the state you live in, some states like New York, California, and Texas offer government programs to subsidize the costs of IVF treatments. There are also income-based grants and scholarships at the national level.

Indeed, a number of organizations have programs for help families pay out-of-pocket expenses for fertility treatments. Some are intended for specific types of patients, such as veterans, cancer survivors or Jewish families.

Find the right doctor.

Once you have an idea of ​​your coverage, find the right doctor for you. Your benefits may only apply to a specific provider, or you may have options.

Some clinics also offer discounts for multiple treatment cycles, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with all the possibilities. Once you know where you are going to receive treatment, you can do more meaningful calculations to determine the total cost of the effort.

“Go around the different clinics,” Schulz advised. “Research different loan options. You may even consider leaving the country to receive treatment, although this would require significant research and should not be taken lightly.

Traveling out of the country would also mean additional costs to consider.

Ask yourself tough questions.

“How we spend directly reflects our priorities,” Schulz said. “For some, the thought of spending $20,000 on a treatment that might not even work makes no sense. Others would not even hesitate to spend as much or more for as long as it takes. Whether you agree with the first, second, or something in between, be sure to do your due diligence and ask yourself some tough questions before you make the call.

For many families, the stakes involved in choosing to undergo expensive fertility treatment are too high to justify.

“Unfortunately, you may ultimately have to decide that it’s just not financially feasible,” Schulz said. “Our absurdly priced health care in this country forces people to make heartbreaking decisions every day about their health and the well-being of their families. That’s true whether you’re talking about cancer drugs, fertility treatments, or countless other things facing Americans today. It’s an absolute tragedy, but that’s where we are right now.

Set aside all the money you can.

“If you want to avoid going into debt to pay for fertility treatment, set a goal of putting money aside in the next X months,” the financial coach recommended. Tatiana Tsoir. “Maybe skip a latte, or the next phone upgrade, or a vacation next time. All of these things add up very quickly and can break the bank.

Although you cannot completely avoid incurring debt, setting up a fund can reduce the amount you will need to take out in loans. Think about it as soon as possible, advised Tsoir.

“I say ‘start saving now,'” she urged. “It’s a good idea to save ‘just because’ for all adults, and a rainy day fund can come in handy in a situation where you want to start a family.”

You might also consider looking at passive savings options. Personal finance platforms like mint and Figure offer many different avenues to explore, such as investing in index funds.

Prepare for hidden costs.

“Fertility has a lot of hidden costs, including mental health and physical health,” Tsoir said. “The medications you take affect your skin and overall health and can affect your self-esteem and, in turn, affect your mental health.”

Think about how much time you might need to take time off from work to deal with potential issues. She recommended reading other people’s stories about experiencing fertility treatment to give you an idea of ​​what might happen.

“Gabby Bernstein, in her book “Super attractor”, talks about his own journey and addresses the mental health behind it all,” Tsoir noted. “I think it’s worth exploring.”

In addition to essays and blogs, there are also many online communities on platforms such as Reddit and Facebook where you can read people’s personal stories.

Choose loan options wisely.

Avoiding all debt may not be possible for your family, but you can prepare to borrow less money and manage it well.

“It’s critical to understand what you’re getting into before applying for one of these loans,” Schulz stressed. “Fertility treatments are so expensive, so making a hasty or misinformed choice about how to finance them can be very costly.”

He suggested looking at credit cards with an introductory interest rate of 0%, but making sure you know the post-launch interest rate in case you can’t repay the full amount during of this initial period. A personal loan is another option to help you manage your personal expenses.

“You won’t find 0% deals with these loans, but if you have good credit, they can often come with lower interest rates than you’d find with credit cards,” Schulz explained. “There is also IVF loans available at fertility clinics specifically for the needs of people receiving these treatments.

Carson noted that the better your credit score, the less interest you’ll have to pay.

“Consider a fixed rate loan rather than a credit card where your payments are variable,” she said. This will help keep your payments consistent and often provide a lower borrowing rate. And consider how long it will take you to pay off the debt – choose a term that will suit your budget.


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John A. Bogar