Millions of people have used in-vitro fertilization to get pregnant, including celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Celine Dion, Chrissy Teigen, and Tyra Banks. In fact, between 1 and 2% of all babies born in the U.S. every year are conceived via IVF. In short, the fertility treatment is a common one, used by everyday Americans and celebrities alike.
Unfortunately, IVF is expensive. Thanks to high overhead and the potential for multiple cycles, for many, IVF is cost-prohibitive. The average out-of-pocket cost for one IVF cycle is between $12,000 and $17,000, and that doesn't include medication. So what does the cost of IVF include, and how can you help offset the expenses?
Here's everything you need to know.
What is IVF, or In-Vitro Fertilization?
While IVF isn't the only fertility treatment option available to people struggling to conceive, it's probably the most well-known.
“IVF, or in-vitro fertilization, is an advanced fertility treatment that helps couples conceive,” Dr. Kristin Bendikson, MD, a fertility doctor at Kindbody, tells Parade. “In an IVF cycle, a woman’s ovaries are stimulated to grow multiple eggs at one time. The eggs are retrieved from the ovaries with a simple procedure. The eggs are then fertilized with sperm [outside of the body] to make embryos, and once the embryos have been created, they can be transferred into a uterus for a woman to carry a pregnancy.”
Related: How to Boost Fertility
“IVF can increase the chance of pregnancy by increasing the number of eggs to statistically improve the odds of ending up with a normal embryo,” Bendikson adds, “bypassing the fallopian tubes when there is a tubal issue and improving fertilization of the egg.”
How Much Does IVF Cost?
It can be difficult to know how much IVF will cost you, as pricing varies from facility to facility and state to state. However, according to the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children's Hospital, cycles range from $12,000 to $17,000.
“Cost can vary depending on a variety of factors, including how much medication is needed, if it includes an embryo transfer or embryos are frozen etc.,” Dr. Ashley Eskew, MD, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, explains. Some other factors which affect the cost of IVF include:
Pre-IVF fertility consultations and/or tests
Mock embryo transfer
Genetic testing of embryos
Most facilities also have yearly storage fees to maintain your embryos. This is generally not included in the initial or per-cycle quote.
“IVF may be less in some clinics and more in others,” Dr. Eskew adds. “Ask your provider for specifics regarding costs that would apply to you.” You also can (and should) price shop, as one clinic may be better able to meet your financial needs than another. However, when looking at IVF treatments, take into consideration the quality of the clinic and the cost. Success rates are an important part of the value equation.
Does Insurance Cover IVF?
Unfortunately, most insurance plans do not cover IVF or other fertility treatment. In fact, only 17 states require insurance plans to even offer infertility coverage, including New York, New Jersey, Texas and California.
“The majority of the time IVF is not covered by insurance,” Dr. Eskew says. “But coverage is starting to become more widespread. There are also some states that mandate fertility coverage by insurance as well [as mentioned above]. Individuals should check their local policies and benefits for specifics to them.”
Insurance Aside, How Can You Pay for IVF?
While IVF is expensive, there are ways to make the cost more manageable. Many fertility clinics offer payment plans, or programs. There are also refund programs available where you pay a set fee, usually between $20,000 and $30,000, and the clinic will refund part of your money if you do not get pregnant after three or four cycles. And flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health savings plans (HSAs) can be used.
“FSA will reimburse you for many major types of fertility treatments and procedures,” an article on FSA Store explains. This includes in-vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, and the implantation of donor eggs.
Other options for paying for IVF treatment include:
Medical, personal, or home equity loans
Grants are also an option. “There are many programs that can assist with financing the cost of an IVF cycle,” Dr. Bendikson adds. "There are also grants that some nonprofit organizations give to patients in need.”
How Many Cycles of IVF Does the Typical Patient Need?
While the success rate varies from person to person, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence explains that most women see success rates of 20 to 35% per cycle, but many individuals undergo multiple cycles before they successfully conceive.
But how many cycles does your typical patient require? That's hard to determine: Age plays a major role in the success of IVF. Weight, smoking, drinking, and drug use can also affect an embryo’s viability, and other factors can impact both the patient and the viability of the treatment.
“There is nothing typical when it comes to IVF,” Dr. Bendikson explains. “The success of IVF depends mostly on the age of the woman and also her markers of ovarian reserve, which determine the number of eggs that can be retrieved in one cycle. While some women can do one cycle and successful, others should expect to do multiple cycles—and even then, they may not always be successful.”
"IVF by the Numbers." Penn Medicine
Dr. Kristin Bendikson, a fertility doctor
Dr. Ashley Eskew, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist
"The Importance of 3 Full Cycles of IVF." National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.