Jun 25th 2020

Lower Cost Fertility Treatments: Understanding Your Options

Many people equate fertility treatment with expensive in vitro fertilization (IVF), but that's just one of many options.

Today, people struggling with fertility have more options than ever before to help them successfully conceive and bear a child. The most expensive option isn't always the best starting point. 

Healthcare providers can help patients navigate the options and associated costs, and provide them information on which treatments may or may not be necessary.

Considerations for patients investigating fertility treatments

Following are a few strategies for patients who are beginning their journey but are concerned about the potential cost.

Check your insurance plan. Many insurance plans now cover fertility treatments, but not all. And the ones that do cover fertility treatments may have very specific requirements for what they cover, and may only cover some fertility specialists. Preauthorization is almost certainly required before an insurance company will cover a particular treatment, so it's always a good idea to start out knowing what will be covered—and what you can expect to have to pay out of pocket. A good resource is the National Infertility Association, which maintains information on infertility coverage by state.

Get tested. It's helpful to undergo testing before seeking fertility treatment. This may include a general health assessment, which can look for factors like thyroid disease and metabolic disorders that can have an impact on the ability to conceive, as well as testing for ovarian function in the woman and a semen analysis in the man. 

Research lower cost options: Fertility treatment and IVF aren't synonymous. Lower cost, less-invasive methods of enhancing a person's fertility do exist, and they might be the right first step. Options include:

- Timed intercourse. It's important to have sexual intercourse at the right time—that is, on the most fertile days of the month. 
- Ruling out or treating ovulation problems. This might include an evaluation to see if the woman has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can be treated with oral medications such as clomid or letrozole. These meds can be paired with timed intercourse to maximize their effectiveness. They can also be used in women who experience inconsistent ovulation for reasons other than PCOS.

Get clarity on IVF costs. An IVF cycle might cost between $15,001 and $30,000 and some couples may require several cycles to get pregnant. Depending on what your insurance covers and how many cycles of IVF are tried, the bill could vary dramatically. Determining your budget before you get started will guide subsequent decisions on how long to continue IVF treatment.

Research payment assistance options. The National Infertility Association maintains a list of resources for people seeking assistance in covering the cost of fertility treatments. Numerous financing programs help people who need financial assistance. You may also be eligible for a scholarship or a grant that can help foot the bill. 

Fertility treatments should be tailored to fit a person or couple's specific needs (and budget). The right option may indeed be a more advanced fertility treatment, such as IVF or frozen embryo transfer. But it doesn't necessarily need to start there. It's helpful to understand the range of options that can help couples conceive and bear a child, and to get insight into ways to lower your cost.