With scientific advancements in IVF and egg freezing, women today have more options than ever when seeking fertility treatment.
However, fertility treatment remains an incredible financial challenge for most women, where oftentimes cost is the main barrier for those in their fertility treatment process. Take IVF for example, between treatment costs for anesthesia, monitoring and egg retrieval, medication and egg storage costs, we’ve seen the total cost for fertility treatment average $15,000 to $20,000 per egg-freezing cycle, with many patients needing two cycles.
As the expense of fertility treatment continues to rise, hopeful parents-to-be are left wondering how these issues can be rectified and how crucial accessibility to medical care can be.
Is the cost of fertility care truly accessible?
While the overall cost of healthcare is one of the systemic problems in the American health system, for patients seeking fertility treatment, there are a few factors driving up the cost of care and limiting accessibility.
Insurance coverage remains limited for fertility care across the board. One issue is that benefits are inconsistent, with certain states outlining different regulations for employers’ coverage requirements as well as inconsistencies between public and private insurers. When fertility coverage is available, that coverage is also not universal: certain types of fertility services, such as testing, are more likely to be covered than others, like more expensive IVF treatments. This results in patients having to pay out of pocket for at least some, if not all, of their costs.
Second, fertility treatments don’t have a definitive timeline, often requiring multiple rounds of treatment, which can increase costs. On average, the cost of one round of fertility treatment can reach well into the tens of thousands per egg freezing cycle, and most women often need two rounds of treatment. Total costs can rise to $30,000-$40,000 quickly, with extra testing, medications, and other add-ons contributing to additional costs. There is also the risk that the treatments will not result in a successful outcome – a key consideration for those weighing their treatment options.
In any conversation about accessibility, one cannot overlook healthcare inequalities that exist systemwide. Certain populations have particularly limited access to care – affordable care or otherwise – due to their income, distance from treatment facilities and access to transportation, race and gender identity, resulting in major disparities in who receives fertility care.
All this financial volatility affects both providers and patients, potentially resulting in raised prices for treatments. So what can the health system do to bring better solutions – or more financial access – to patients? There are solutions for improving financial accessibility for fertility treatments on both the patient and provider sides of the system.
Fertility Care affordability starts with adding options
Healthcare providers, who earn less income today as compared to decades ago, are under immense pressure to do more work and see more patients at a lower cost. Patients are faced with high inflation, raising interest rates, and an uncertain economic future.
Now more than ever, making smart financial decisions is critical. It takes serious financial planning to save five-figure sums, so patients should consider exploring financing options and find ways to help budget and save to put them in the best position possible.
Empowering patients with financing
Fertility providers can do their part by ensuring patients feel empowered and educated when it comes to utilizing financing for treatments. This effort is multi-faceted. To begin, providers should seek out financing partners who offer responsible lending products with fair and flexible options. For example, there are various considerations for patients who are looking into financing options, including interest and commitment terms. Providers can help patients get a jump on understanding their options by proactively presenting financing at their first visit, as well as educating them on savings resources to help ease the cost burdens of fertility care.
Accessible fertility care is achievable with coordinated efforts
Everybody’s fertility journey is different, and it’s an extremely personal and emotional decision for many women and families who are considering their options. But one’s ability to afford fertility care should not exclude them from achieving their family planning goals.
Today, there are flexible options and personalized ways to save and plan for fertility care, but more work is needed from both patients and care providers to bring healthcare into the 21st century, make care more accessible, and reduce the overall cost of healthcare.