Updated: Jul 2, 2019
The joy of parenting may be priceless, but for couples struggling to conceive, fertility treatments have a huge price tag. Expenses can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars for IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) procedures. Since there is no guarantee of a positive outcome, fertility clinics generally expect payment up front.
So, how do you finance your dream when almost everything is beyond your control?
Last week a couple contacted me in search of a reputed Embryologist and Fertility Specialist. They have already spent in excess of $20,000, and are under immense pressure to choose the right fertility clinic to increase their chances of success while watching their bank balance.
While it was easy for me to recommend an excellent fertility clinic with a great reputation, I found it challenging to find ways for them to help finance the treatments. I did some digging and made some phone calls to put together a list of potential ways to finance fertility treatments. For those of you faced with similar challenges, I'd like to share the list with you in this week's blog:
1. Hidden Benefits in a Health Insurance Policy
If you have private health insurance from your employer, check the insurance policy. If you have filed a claim for fertility treatment that has been rejected, make sure the reason for denying the claim is valid. You should be able to find the said reason on the returned paperwork or online form. It could be a typing error on your part, or a mistake made by your healthcare provider's office.
If the claims adjustor says the treatment isn’t covered, check your policy for exclusions, and if you don’t see specific exclusions for the treatment or drug provided, call the insurance company and ask for a review. In most cases, the claim will be assessed at by someone other than the first reviewer, and your claim could be approved.
2. A Flexible Spending Account
If you or your partner have a flexible spending account (FSA) through your employer, many expenses related to infertility treatment can be claimed. However, I would recommend using your insurance first, in order to maximise the amount you can claim. For example, use funds from your FSA to pay drug and office visit copays that are not covered through health insurance. If your FSA comes with a credit/debit card to use for approved expenses, use it as often as you can to reduce the amount of money you have to spend from your own pocket.
3. Clinical Trials
There may be a few ongoing clinical trials looking for new participants. It is definitely worth spending some time on researching these trials. Just make sure you run the idea past your doctor, check the trial specifics and be sure the trial is viable for you.
Health Canada's Clinical Trials Database lists all active trials. Using search terms like "infertility,” "endometriosis” and “polycystic ovarian disease,” could bring up search results for trials on treatments for a condition that might be keeping you from becoming pregnant.
4. Alternative Cheaper Treatments
There are two common methods to try to help a woman produce eggs. One is the practice of using hormone injections to stimulate egg production. The second is a procedure called minimal stimulation (Min Stim) that uses oral drugs. Min Stim treatments can cost a lot less than the average cost of IVF procedures using hormone injections.
While the cheaper procedure (Min Stim) will produce only about one to four eggs, the hormone injections often produce about 8-10 eggs, which in turn can increase a woman’s chance for pregnancy. So, minimal stimulation might be a viable option for women in their 20s who don't have a huge bank balance and are willing to try a less expensive option to start with, as well as for women over 40, who are unlikely to produce more than 2 eggs regardless of the procedure used.
Another resource that people have tapped into is crowd funding. Websites like Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and Kickstarter let people raise money for medical causes. However, you must consider the fact that these funds come at a price - loss of privacy. Be sure to read and understand the fine print before launching your campaign. GoFundMe, for example, no longer takes a percentage of the funds collected, but they do suggest giving them a tip. Most crowd funding sites add a processing fee for the credit card transactions, which can take away a few dollars from each donation. If crowd funding is the route you want to take, I would suggest searching for fundraising campaigns that raised most or all of their goal to see what kind of language and campaigns worked for them, and use them as inspiration.
6. Interest Free Loans
A common financing idea fertility clinics recommend is to take an interest-bearing loan, because they want to get their payment up front. If a loan is your only alternative, you could be adding thousands of dollars to the cost of the treatment — a cost you will owe even if you never become pregnant.
If your credit is good and borrowing money from a financial institution is your only alternative, consider looking for a low or zero interest credit card (keep in mind, if you fall behind on payments your interest rates can hit the roof! ). And before you sign up for a second mortgage or some other interest-bearing loan, find out if any houses of worship or organisations in your area offer interest-free loans. Start with a local pastor or co-op bank, they may have a pot for funding such cases — and may be able to make part of the money a gift.
That's all I have for now folks! I will update this blog if I hear of other options. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to connect with me.
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
* In December 2015, Ontario announced that 50 clinics across the province would be providing publicly funded in-vitro fertilisation. A press release stated "Ontario will fund one cycle of IVF and unlimited rounds of artificial insemination for eligible people at fertility clinics across the province". For a full list of clinics offering publicly funded treatments, visit the Ontario government's fertility services website.
The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.
*No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.