By Susan Hammerberg, Fertility Financial Expert
People who are struggling with an infertility diagnosis often find themselves in a difficult financial situation: fertility treatments can be costly, and many struggle to find ways to fund their journey. Thankfully, there are several options available, beyond just health insurance coverage benefits, to help with the cost of fertility treatments.
When it comes to reproductive health, most fertility treatment cycles have multiple stages. Some of these may include testing, medication, intrauterine insemination (IUI), sperm or egg retrieval, sperm or egg freezing, fresh or frozen embryo transfer, and/or finding donor eggs or sperm. With each stage comes a series of appointments and accompanying financial responsibilities. The financial needs continue to build and grow as you go through these stages, and the cost required to pay for your treatment plan may start to feel overwhelming.
To help you better understand how much money you are going to need for these fertility appointments and procedures, and to eliminate as many financial surprises as possible, you will need to know how much everything costs to begin with. Try to learn as much as possible about costs before starting any visits, and also understand what your insurance will and will not cover. Then come up with your fertility financing plan prior to starting your care.
Contact your healthcare insurance carrier
The first thing you will want to do is contact your health insurance carrier and verify what coverage, if any, you have for testing, fertility medication, and treatment options. Some insurance plans may cover certain diagnostic tests or medication. Some may even cover the actual procedure, such as a full in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. Others may not cover anything at all.
Next, you will want to talk with your clinic and find out what their costs are for the services you need. Once you know your coverage and costs, you will be able to move forward knowing what your financial responsibility will be, whether that’s upfront or with monthly payment plans (if offered by your clinic). Most clinics have financial counselors who can provide a “verification of benefits (VOB),” stating what your insurance covers and what is not covered, along with what you are financially responsible for. Once the financial counselor has this VOB, they will be able to provide you with a list of services and what they “estimate” your patient responsibility will be.
Can I afford my fertility treatments?
Now you need to know how to afford to pay for your treatment options. While making payments for your upcoming cycle on credit cards can seem overwhelming at first, the nice thing is that there are several financing options for covering your expenses. Let’s look at some of these creative and not-so-creative ways to generate the extra money you need to help pay for your fertility treatment.
Grants and scholarships
One option is looking into grants and scholarships. Grants are available through organizations such as:
These grants can help cover the cost of treatments such as egg freezing, IVF, and even preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). For a list of fertility grants and charities available, please visit Resolve, The National Infertility Association.
Several reputable non-profit organizations and private scholarship funds exist to help families afford fertility care like IVF treatment. Keep in mind that fertility grants often have eligibility requirements, so before you start filling out an application, be sure to read through what those are and make sure you qualify. Some of the requirements may include: an official diagnosis of infertility from a certified physician, being a certain age, and being a permanent resident in either a certain state or the United States. Check for submission deadlines, and know that you will likely need to pay an application fee.
Fertility loans are another option to consider for couples seeking fertility treatment. Many financial institutions offer loans specifically for fertility treatments with competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options. There are companies that work with fertility clinics to help patients obtain these loans, such as:
Some of these loan companies offer a predetermination with no hard inquiry on your credit report. You can also check with your personal bank or credit union on their rates for personal loans and compare them to those who specialize in fertility treatment loans. These loans can help cover the cost of high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses associated with medications, treatments, and non-covered services.
It is best to do your research and compare different lenders to find the best loan terms and low-interest options for you. Also talk to your clinic—sometimes they pair up with a fertility loan company that works with those clinics’ clients.
401k retirement plan
If you have a 401k retirement plan, you might consider pulling money out as an option to pay for treatment. Financial advisors may suggest doing this as a last resort. Under certain circumstances, you may qualify for what’s known as a “hardship withdrawal” from your 401k retirement plan. There may be penalties and taxes you have to pay for doing this. It is recommended that you speak with your 401k or financial advisor to learn more about the possible fines, taxes, repayments, and other costs associated with borrowing against or withdrawing from your 401k retirement plan.
Crowdfunding is an option that involves collecting various amounts of money from a large group of participants. Usually, someone will host the fundraiser on behalf of the person the money is benefiting, such as a friend or family member.
Two of the most common options for crowdfunding include GoFundMe and Facebook Fundraising. Be careful with these options though, as they do keep a percentage of your total funds collected.
These crowdfunding platforms allow individuals to create and share their fundraising forum with their network. This can also allow you to share your story while asking for donations to help you achieve your dream of growing your family.
While this option may not be for everyone, it can be a helpful and simple way to raise funds and receive support from others who may be going through similar experiences. You’ll be raising money to help pay for your treatment and related expenses and lessen your financial burden, and at the same time you’ll be raising awareness about infertility.
Fertility clinics may require full payment prior to starting a cycle, but some may provide flexible payment plans. They may also offer their own grant programs or have financial loan companies to help you qualify and apply for a loan and/or grant.
Grants, loans, crowdfunding, payment plans, and even basic fundraising can all be helpful resources for couples seeking fertility treatments. It is important to explore all of your options and choose the one that best fits your individual situation. With the help of these resources, aspiring parents can take steps towards building the family they have always dreamed of. In addition to these options, don’t forget to talk with your fertility specialist or clinic to see what financial assistance they may offer, and if they work with any specific companies for loans, grants, and scholarships.
No matter which route you choose, research every possibility that might be available to you. Use the internet to search for grants and scholarships based on the state you live in, or a health condition you may have. You may even find options based on your nationality or religious affiliation.
The fertility financial path forward
It can be hard and stressful to know what your out-of-pocket costs will be for your fertility journey. You may feel overwhelmed and defeated, thinking you may not be able to afford family-building in this way. But remember that there are options. Be creative and make a plan and a goal, and you will get there. There are plenty of ways to raise money, and just a few of those were mentioned above.
Overall, funding your fertility journey can be an emotional process. Opening up to others about your fertility issues can make you feel vulnerable. But by being vulnerable with your experience, you might be surprised about how many other people have gone through the same struggles in building their own families, and may welcome the opportunity to help you. By exploring different funding options and asking for help and support, you can start to build the family you have always dreamed of.