Infertility is rarely discussed yet fairly common. According to statistics from FertilityIQ, it impacts one in eight Americans. That’s more than those with diabetes, breast cancer, or Alzheimer’s disease.
Yet as prevalent as infertility is, insurance rarely provides much if any coverage for treatments. Only a few states mandate that insurance policies must offer some coverage for infertility treatments and, of those, even fewer require medical insurance to provide coverage for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). You can find a complete list of states with infertility treatment laws at Resolve, the website of the National Infertility Association.
Little to no insurance coverage, coupled with the hefty price tag of most fertility treatments, leaves many couples at a loss as to how to pursue their dreams of having a family. Moreover, unless couples know in advance that they’ll need reproductive assistance — such as same-sex couples seeking to conceive a child of their own or if one or both members of a heterosexual couple is diagnosed with an issue affecting their fertility — many couples don’t know there will be a problem until they start trying. That makes planning for the costs of infertility problematic.
That was the situation for my husband and I. We’d always dreamed of having multiple children and were able to conceive our first child fairly easily. After a relatively uncomplicated pregnancy, our son was born healthy. Because I was already in my late 30s, we knew we didn’t have much time to wait, so we started trying for baby No. 2 right away.
Since I knew I could get pregnant, and I’d bought into the myth that a second baby would come even more easily than the first, I had zero expectation of what would come next. After six months of failing to conceive, we began a three-year journey of fertility treatments, only to end up with no baby and nothing left to try.
Along with the emotional toll of infertility, which research has shown causes significant trauma, we were also left with thousands of dollars in medical bills. Although many men and women who struggle with infertility do successfully conceive with the intervention of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), regardless of whether a baby lies at the end of the journey, infertility issues are drowning many Americans in excessive debt.
The High Costs of Infertility
Most insurance policies fail to cover infertility treatments, forcing many couples to pay for care out of pocket. And unfortunately, the U.S. is notorious for its high cost of health care.
As CNBC reports, the U.S. spends more than any other developed nation on medical care, and it’s not because we have a sicker population. Nor is it because our care is better. It’s simply because doctors, drugs, and medical treatments cost more here than anywhere else.
That leaves the more than 12% of couples facing infertility in the difficult position of deciding how much having kids is worth.
In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
According to statistics from FertilityIQ, the average expense for most couples who undergo cycles of IVF, the gold standard of fertility treatments, is $51,000.
Although the average cost of one IVF cycle is $12,400, most couples aren’t able to conceive on the first try and must undergo several cycles before IVF results in a live birth. Add to that the expenses of fertility medications, doctors’ appointments, and embryo storage, as well as lost time from work — additional costs that often aren’t included in the IVF cycle price.
If a couple must resort to using donor eggs, it can cost an additional $30,000 to $60,000 for just one cycle. And if surrogacy becomes necessary, it can cost upward of $100,000.
Unfortunately, very few of those undergoing IVF are able to use their medical insurance to cover any or all of the procedure. According to FertilityIQ, 80% of those undergoing IVF in 2018 had no coverage, making it prohibitively expensive for many couples.
Medications & Other Fertility Treatments
IVF isn’t the only fertility treatment, nor is it the only one insurances fail to cover. CNBC tells the story of one couple who underwent fertility treatments for a monumental out-of-pocket cost of $70,000 — no IVF included.
Sometimes, insurance policies cover some, but not all, medical expenses related to infertility. For example, my own insurance policy covered my doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds, minus my copay, but none of my fertility medications. I underwent multiple cycles of hormone injections, and each cycle ran up a bill of $1,000 for medications alone.
Other fertility treatments that can come with hefty price tags include genetic testing; semen analysis; intrauterine insemination (IUI), which can cost up to $1,000 for each attempt; and corrective fertility surgeries, such as laparoscopy or hysteroscopy, which can cost several thousand dollars.
Time Off Work
Many women end up taking a considerable amount of time off work to go to doctors’ appointments or spend time in the hospital for procedures. That doesn’t include the additional time off that’s needed if treatments result in a successful pregnancy. Many women don’t have adequate sick leave or personal time to cover this and must take unpaid time off.
For example, friends of ours underwent three years of reproductive assistance that successfully resulted in the conception and delivery of healthy twins. Unfortunately, my friend had an allergic reaction to some of her fertility medications, which required several hospital stays. Then, shortly after she conceived her twins, she was placed on bed rest. She ended up burning through not only her paid leave, but also her entire 12-week Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allotment.
Because of all the time off, she lost her job. Everything ended up OK as her husband was able to pick up some extra work, and having her stay home with the twins made more sense for them than paying the cost of two kids in day care. But for many families, this kind of situation could be financially devastating.
No fertility treatment comes with a guarantee. Many infertile couples end up spending tens of thousands of dollars on unsuccessful fertility treatments. Some couples then turn to adoption but adoption can also be prohibitively expensive.
According to the Adoption Network Law Center, adopting a child can cost anywhere from $32,000 to $66,000. These figures include both domestic and international adoptions. Further compounding the cost of adoption is that many couples only seek these alternatives after first spending tens of thousands of dollars on failed fertility treatments.
How to Manage the Costs of Infertility
Two ways to manage the costs of infertility are to live more frugally or get a second job. And while these are certainly viable options — they’re some of the ways my husband and I afforded our medical bills — it often isn’t enough. So here are 14 additional ways to help manage the high costs of infertility.
1. Know Your Coverage
It pays to thoroughly understand your health care coverage, whether for fertility treatments or any other kind of care.
Many fertility clinics call your insurance company on your behalf to find out what is and isn’t covered and how much benefit your insurance provides for each type of treatment. It will help you know in advance what your out-of-pocket expenses will be for various fertility options at that particular clinic.
It’s also worth noting that some insurance policies cover treatment for a diagnosable condition that’s preventing fertility, such as endometriosis, but not for unexplained infertility. Make sure you’re familiar with the fine print of your policy so you know what to expect and can budge accordingly.
2. Consider a New Job With a Better Insurance Plan
If none of the available insurance plans at your current job offer fertility coverage, you may want to consider switching jobs, especially if you’re facing high-cost treatments such as IVF. Although many insurance plans don’t cover much in the way of fertility treatments, some do. Some even cover IVF partially or completely. If you’re facing prohibitively high fertility costs, it may be worth it to switch jobs.
Fortunately, more and more employers are beginning to recognize the value of offering coverage for infertility. In 2018, 44% of big companies — defined as those with more than 20,000 employees — offered full or partial coverage for IVF, according to The New York Times. That’s an increase of 7% from 2017. Moreover, CNBC reports a 20% increase in companies offering such benefits in 2019.
Why the upward trend among employers offering IVF and fertility coverage? For one, it helps with employee retention. According to research from FertilityIQ, of those surveyed who had their IVF covered by their employer, 62% reported being more likely to remain in their jobs for a longer period. And 88% of the women who had their IVF fully paid for returned to their employer after giving birth.
FertilityIQ’s research includes a list of employers that offer fertility benefits, but because more and more companies add benefits every year, be sure to check the benefits of the insurance plans your prospective company offers.
3. Meet With an Infertility Specialist Before Trying to Conceive
One of the things that makes dealing with the costs of infertility so difficult is that often, couples only discover problems after they try to conceive naturally and fail.
If you’re under 35, most insurance policies expect you to try to make a baby the old-fashioned way for one year before they’ll cover fertility treatments. If you’re over 35, it’s six months. That’s because the chances for a successful treatment start to decline after 35. And if you’re over 40, it’s recommended that you visit a fertility clinic right away.
But even though most insurance policies won’t pay for coverage until there’s a demonstrable issue, it can be worthwhile to see a specialist before trying to conceive, especially if you have any known issues or red flags, such as an irregular period. Fertility specialists can help prepare you for potential problems as well as discuss your options and possible costs.
Another option is annual testing, which can help you keep an eye on your fertility and spot any issues if it starts to decline. Although you have to pay for the testing out of pocket at a medical clinic if you’re not currently under treatment for infertility, new tech startups such as Modern Fertility are making testing cheaper and easier with an at-home kit that can give you a picture of your current fertility.
And although it won’t necessarily help you avoid infertility issues, the cheapest and easiest way to preserve your fertility is to keep yourself healthy. That means eating right, exercising, and visiting your OB/GYN annually. Sexually transmitted diseases, infections, and conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, and fibroids can all affect fertility.
4. Fully Fund Your HSA
If you have a health savings account (HSA), fully fund it before trying to conceive. An HSA allows you to contribute part of your wages, pre-tax, to an account you can use to pay for medical care, including infertility treatments. Withdrawals and the interest you earn on your savings are also tax-free.
If your health plan has an HSA, you should fully fund it regardless of whether you anticipate any fertility issues. Unlike an FSA (flexible spending account), which requires you to use any deposited funds within that calendar year, funds deposited into an HSA roll over every year, meaning you can keep the money in your account indefinitely until you’re ready to use it. That means your HSA funds can help you pay for any costs incurred in pregnancy and delivery, even if you never encounter infertility issues.
Even if you’ve already started trying to conceive and are now seeking help with your fertility, or if you’ve been working with a fertility specialist for a while, it’s still in your best interests to fully fund your HSA if you have one. At the very least, it will allow you to pay for all your medical care tax-free, which could save you at least a small amount of money. And when it comes to planning for a family, every dollar counts.
Pro tip: If you currently have a high deductible health plan, but don’t have an HSA, check out Lively. You can set up your HSA in minutes and the best part is it’s free for individuals and families.
5. Plan Ahead for All Baby Expenses
There’s no question that it’s expensive to raise children, even if you never encounter fertility issues. According to the USDA, the average cost of raising just one child from birth to age 17 was $233,610 in 2017, and that number increases with each passing year. It also doesn’t include the cost of college, which easily doubles that figure.
Granted, that money is spent over time, not dished out up front as with fertility treatments. Still, every parent should plan for baby costs well in advance. The cost of maternity clothes, maternity aids, doctor’s visits, and ultrasounds while pregnant can quickly add up, and labor and delivery costs — as well as any after-birth procedures, such as circumcision — can also be significant. That’s not to mention all the baby gear — nursery furniture, car seats, strollers, baby clothes, diapers, and toys — you’ll want to purchase for your little one, or the cost of child care, which is easily one of the biggest expenses. My husband and I pay almost as much for child care for our single child as we do in rent for our three-bedroom townhome.
According to 2015 statistics from the USDA, the average middle-income, two-parent family will spend $12,680 on the younger of two children during their first year. If you’re working on your first or only child, that figure could easily be higher. Unfortunately, close to half of all Americans don’t have enough money saved to cover even a $400 emergency. That makes saving as much as possible before having a baby essential.
Whether you end up needing extensive fertility assistance or you’re able to conceive naturally, prepare yourself for the costs of raising children by making saving a top priority. If you’re already dealing with infertility and haven’t saved up, understanding the cost of raising children might at least help prepare you mentally for the years ahead. When I was undergoing fertility treatments and dishing out $1,000 per month for copays and hormone injections, it helped me to put the financial loss into perspective by understanding that amount was almost equivalent to the cost of day care for one child. I thought of it as a test for our finances: If we couldn’t afford the treatments, then we certainly couldn’t afford to have a second child.
Hopefully, you’re already financially prepared for having a family, in which case, if the worst happens, you’ll be able to dip into that savings to help cover the costs of fertility treatments. But even if you haven’t, it’s important to understand how much you’ll need to raise your future children and to weigh those costs against what you’ll need for fertility treatments. That way, you can prepare an adequate budget or decide on your upper limit for spending on fertility assistance or taking on debt.
6. Know Your Limits
The decision to become a parent is not a financial one. Caring for another human, not to mention several, can quickly drain your income as well as your savings. No one has ever said that having kids is a good financial investment. Rather, becoming a parent is an emotional decision tied up with who we imagine ourselves to be and what we want our lives to become.
That makes spending money — any amount of money — on fertility treatments worth it to many would-be parents. Had my husband and I not run out of options for conceiving a child of our own, I would have figured out some way to find the money, no matter the cost, to make the dream of having another child a reality — and I write about personal finance for a living. I understand firsthand how difficult it can be to try to put a price on having a child. Children are priceless. Unfortunately, infertility treatments are not.
Deciding on Financial Limits
The high cost of fertility treatments could easily cripple any family financially. It’s important to weigh that against the additional costs of raising a child. If you financially incapacitate yourselves before your child is even born, raising them will be extremely difficult.
Like it or not, money matters. Beyond the emotional toll of infertility — which research has likened to the trauma of having cancer, HIV, or chronic pain — substantial debt can put a tremendous burden on a relationship. According to a 2018 study by Ramsey Solutions, nearly half of couples with debt fight about money, and that fighting only gets worse and more intense the more debt there is. That can affect your future child emotionally and psychologically, in addition to impacting your ability to provide them with the kind of life you imagine.
Moreover, the financial decisions you make today impact which opportunities are available to you in the future. For example, if you spend $50,000 on several cycles of IVF, you may not have that money available for adoption, which can cost $50,000 or more.
So as much as strong emotions interfere with making good financial decisions, it’s important to stick to your upper spending limit matter what. Understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your parenting journey; it may just mean you try a different option.
To help you calculate your upper limit, sit down with your partner and take a look at your after-baby — not before-baby — budget. How much will you need to spend on raising a child, including the cost of medical care, food, diapers, baby gear, and child care? Also consider how much you need to keep in the bank in order to cover any emergencies, including ones that could arise during pregnancy or delivery and might require hospital stays for either mother or baby. Finally, if you’re considering taking on debt to cover the costs of fertility treatments, think about how much you can reasonably afford in monthly payments after accounting for all baby expenses.
Once you’ve decided on your limit, to help you stick to it, make a list of all the potential negative consequences of spending beyond your ability. When strong emotions threaten to push you past your agreed-upon threshold, use this list as a way to remind yourselves why you need to stop.
Deciding on Treatment Limits
Deciding on an upper limit for how far you’re willing to go doesn’t only mean how much money you’re able to spend. You and your partner may also decide there are certain treatments you don’t want to try, regardless of the price tag.
For example, after the age of 35, the success rates for IVF plunge dramatically. The New York Times reports that only 30% of women over 40 get pregnant using IVF, and only 20% deliver live babies. So if your struggles with fertility are due to advanced age, you and your partner may decide you don’t even want to attempt IVF.
You may also decide you feel strongly about having your own biological children, so donor eggs are not for you.
Another potential treatment decision that could affect your finances — and, therefore, your options — is starting with IVF rather than spending time on other methods first. Several cycles of IUI, for example, may cut into your ability to try IVF should the IUI cycles not work, so you may want to jump straight to IVF to preserve your options.
Deciding to Forgo Treatment
Deciding not to spend money on fertility treatments at all is also a viable option. No fertility treatment comes with a guarantee of success. You may choose to keep trying naturally, adopt, or live child-free instead.
Deciding not to exhaust your resources on a potentially fruitless endeavor is a choice only you and your partner can make. As difficult as the decision may be, making it can help you mourn the loss and move on, whereas spending years on a potentially unsuccessful journey with fertility treatments can result in significant emotional trauma as you continue to hold out hope only to have it dashed month after month.
7. Shop Around for Fertility Clinics
All clinics aren’t the same. When you’re searching for a fertility clinic, you don’t necessarily have to go to the first one your OB/GYN refers you to. If you have the option of shopping around, start by checking out the clinic’s success rates.
Be sure to compare success rates with the cost of treatments. Ideally, you want a clinic that can give you the treatment you need at a cost you can afford. Don’t hesitate to call up other clinics and find out what they can offer you in terms of prices.
When comparing prices, make sure to ask what’s included. For example, many clinics will quote you a price for IVF, but it often doesn’t include the cost of medications or storage for frozen eggs or embryos, and it sometimes doesn’t include the costs of ultrasounds and blood work.
You can attempt to negotiate with a clinic. If you can get a better price from one, but you prefer the more expensive clinic, explain your situation and ask if the more expensive clinic will come down a bit in price. Your fertility clinic may also be able to help you manage costs by offering you financing or payment options, either in-house or through a program such as ARC Fertility Financing.
And don’t forget to consider travel expenses. For example, many lower-cost clinics around the U.S. offer considerable discounts on treatments; CNY Fertility, for example, offers IVF at a third of the cost of the national average. But if you have to travel far to get to one of their clinics in New York State, Atlanta, or Montreal, consider whether the cost of airfare, hotel stays, and time off work will offset any savings.
8. Save on Prescriptions
Fertility drugs aren’t cheap, but you may be able to get discounts or better prices by doing a little research.
Your doctor may recommend a particular specialty pharmacy for your medications, but you’re free to shop around. Just as not all clinics offer services at the same prices, neither do all pharmacies charge the same amount for prescriptions. You can even use a service such as DesignRX, which can help you negotiate the best price for your medications.
Another way to save money on fertility drugs is to look into discount programs. Some pharmacies provide their own for those who qualify, so it’s worth asking. My husband and I worked with a program that offered discount levels of 25%, 50%, and 75% off the price of medications, depending on income. Although I wasn’t sure we’d qualify at all, we applied and were approved for a 50% cost reduction on my hormone injections.
Some drug manufacturers also have discount programs. For example, EMD Serono, the maker of Gonal F, a follicle-stimulating hormone injection, offers a similar discount structure of 25%, 50%, or 75% off their fertility medications for those whose incomes qualify. Ferring Reproductive Health, the maker of Bravelle, Menopur, Endometrin, and Novarel, also has a discount program.
Some discount programs are for self-pay patients, while others are designed for use alongside insurance, so be sure to check the rules of each discount program before applying.
9. Talk With Your Doctor
Doctors may be willing to provide a discount if you explain your situation. One woman writes on FertilityIQ about how she negotiated with her doctor for a lower price on IVF with surrogacy.
Your doctor may also be able to provide you with free medications. Fertility clinics often receive samples from drug manufacturers and are willing to hand these out to patients in need. It’s especially helpful when your medication needs change mid-cycle.
For example, more than once, I produced multiple follicles during a cycle with hormone injections, but they were slow to develop. When that happens, three injections can quickly turn into six or even 10. With one particularly long cycle, during which my reproductive endocrinologist decided to wait out my ovaries, we had already spent to our monthly limit. So my doctor gave me an additional vial of follicle-stimulating hormone for free from his sample stash. The same amount of hormone would have cost me $600 out of pocket.
10. Ask About Package Deals
If you end up needing IVF, many clinics offer package deals, either in-house or through a program such as Attain Fertility. These are discounts on individual IVF cycles if you pay for multiple cycles up front. Many couples need to go through more than one cycle — the average is three, according to FertilityIQ — so it could end up saving you a significant amount of money.
The drawback is that, in most cases, you won’t get your money back if you end up needing fewer cycles. However, most clinics will allow you to use any remaining cycles on conceiving additional children should you decide you want to try for more.
11. Look Into a Shared-Risk Program
An alternative to package deals that comes with a money-back guarantee is shared-risk programs. They’re called shared-risk because the clinic offers you a discount on repeated IVF cycles, but should you fail to become pregnant, you’ll get your money back. The clinic takes on the risk of refunding you, and you take on risk because the overall price of a shared-risk program is higher than that of one cycle of IVF, so you’re betting it will take you more than one IVF cycle to conceive.
The clear advantage of these programs is the potentially significant savings on multiple IVF cycles. For example, Shady Grove’s Shared Risk 100% Refund Program charges an average of $20,000 for up to six cycles of IVF and $30,000 for six cycles using an egg donor. That’s twice the cost of a single IVF cycle at the clinic but nowhere near the cost of six.
Also, with a money-back guarantee, if you’re ultimately unsuccessful, you’ll be able to use the money toward adoption if you decide to go that route.
These programs aren’t without significant drawbacks, however. Typically, only those who are already strong candidates for IVF qualify. Even though the average IVF patient will require three or more cycles, The New York Times reports that it’s highly likely, if you’re accepted into a shared-risk program, that you may conceive on the first try. In other words, the house usually wins. The risk may be worth it to you, though, as you’ll likely be so thrilled at conceiving on the first try that you won’t mind the financial loss. Moreover, these programs can offer patients the peace of mind that on the off chance they aren’t successful, they’ll have money to spend on alternatives.
Every program has different qualifications and covers different costs. Be sure to check the fine print of your clinic’s shared-risk program before deciding to participate. For example, if costs such as blood work, pre-screenings, the purchase of donor eggs, and medication aren’t covered, you’ll have to shell out additional money, and you won’t actually be getting a “full” refund if you’re unsuccessful.
Be especially sure to check that the money-back guarantee applies to a live birth, not just conception or a pregnancy that lasts only a certain number of weeks. A significant percentage of IVF pregnancies end prematurely in miscarriage, so a shared-risk program that doesn’t define success as a live birth is not worth the risk.
12. Apply for a Grant
Many couples who struggle to pay for fertility treatments aren’t aware that grants and scholarships are available to cover part or all of the costs associated with treatment. But there are many organizations that exist to provide this kind of help.
For example, the Cade Foundation offers an annual grant called The Family Building Grant, which awards $10,000 to help cover either fertility treatment or adoption costs for lower-income families. Other organizations include the Baby Quest Foundation, which offers a number of grants to help with the cost of fertility medications, and Parental Hope, which offers grants to help with the cost of IVF or frozen embryo transfer performed at the Institute for Reproductive Health. Even some states, such as New York, offer fertility grants.
Keep in mind, though, that grants aren’t necessarily an opportunity for “free money.” Each grant has its own requirements, which may be quite strict, such as meeting a certain income level or getting your treatments from one particular clinic. They’re also limited by the amount of available funds. For example, the Baby Quest Foundation offers approximately 10 grants for every 300 to 400 applicants.
For a complete list of fertility grants and scholarships, visit Resolve. A list of grants for fertility treatments, as well as medications and even adoptions, is also available at Fertility Within Reach.
13. Sell Your Stuff
When you think of fundraising, you probably don’t think of garage sales, but I have a friend who raised $1,500 through a single garage sale to help with adoption costs after advertising it as an “adoption fundraiser.” And The Washington Post reports that people have been able to raise as much as $10,000 by having friends and family donate unwanted stuff to their garage sale efforts.
Some couples have even gone so far as to sell off big-ticket items such as cars to help fund their baby-making efforts. I’ve personally made thousands of dollars selling unwanted items through websites such as eBay, Letgo, and Craigslist. Having a baby may be more important to you than your stuff, especially if it’s unused or no longer wanted, making this a great way to help mitigate some of the costs of fertility treatments.
14. Set Up a Crowdfunding Campaign
Another fundraising approach many couples are turning to is crowdfunding. As talking about infertility becomes less taboo, this method of fundraising is increasingly popular to help offset the significant financial impact of fertility treatments.
One of the more popular crowdfunding websites for medical funding is GoFundMe. There have been thousands of infertility fundraisers on GoFundMe since its inception in 2010. In fact, fertility fundraisers have become so popular at the site that GoFundMe has a specific portal just for IVF fundraisers. Other crowdfunding websites that allow fertility or adoption fundraising include AdoptTogether, and JustGiving.
Crowdfunding can be a successful form of fundraising for some couples, yet this method isn’t without its drawbacks.
For one, to be successful at crowdfunding, you must have a sizeable social network. Although the occasional stranger may come upon your campaign and be moved to donate based on your story, most of your funds will come from family, friends, and friends of friends. It also requires asking everyone you know for money, which could be difficult emotionally. You’ll have to let go of any potential feelings of shame and embarrassment that may come from asking for money and talking about your infertility to make your baby dreams come true.
Also, airing your story to everyone you know could open the gates to opinions from just about everyone. Some of those opinions could be negative, so you’ll need to grow a thick skin against any offensive comments.
Methods to Think Twice About
No matter how eager you are to have a child, there are some methods for covering the cost of fertility treatments that you should think very carefully about before resorting to.
Any method that results in a significant amount of debt can have severe repercussions, placing a significant strain on your relationship, daily life, and ability to provide for any future children. Moreover, because no fertility treatment is guaranteed, you may find yourself in tens of thousands of dollars of debt with no baby to show for it.
These five financing methods are ones you may want to avoid.
1. Home Equity Loans or Home Equity Lines of Credit
If you own a home, this may be one of your least expensive options for borrowing. There are essentially two ways to borrow against the equity in your home. You can take out either a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). The difference is a home equity loan gives you a lump sum amount you pay back over a period of time. A HELOC, on the other hand, functions more like a credit card. You can use funds from your line of credit, replace them, and then use them again.
The benefit to using either a home equity loan or HELOC is lower interest rates than you’ll find on other types of loans. The interest rates on both types of loans are 5% to 6% on average. Compare that with the average minimum credit card interest rate across all types of cards, which is 17.7%.
The drawback to these loans is that they require you to borrow against your home. If you default on your payments, you could end up losing your house, and you certainly don’t want to end up homeless with a newborn. So if you’re going to take out a home equity loan or HELOC, which CNBC reports 8% of IVF patients do, make sure you’ll be able to manage the payments after accounting for all baby costs.
2. Medical Loans
Medical loans are credit cards specifically designed to help with health care costs. You can get them for a variety of health care needs, but some, such as Future Family, specialize in financing fertility costs.
Some medical loans offer 0% interest for a set period, allowing you to raise needed funds in other ways before the period expires. But be careful to read the fine print. If you start with a 0% interest rate and don’t pay off your loan within the set period, you may end up paying double or triple the originally borrowed amount due to retroactive interest rates. Also be sure you know if there are any penalties for paying off the debt early, as well as what happens if you’re late on a payment.
A fertility clinic may try to offer you a medical loan in the guise of a “payment plan.” Make no mistake, however; medical loans are not split payments paid over a period of time, but credit, which comes complete with potentially high interest rates and penalties for certain activities.
For a complete list of medical financing options, visit Resolve.
3. Personal Loans
Personal loans through a company like Credible are also an option, particularly if you have good credit, as they often have lower interest rates than medical loans and, thus, mean less money you’ll have to pay back over time. If you have bad credit, you may still be able to get a loan, but interest rates will be much higher.
Just as with any type of credit, before taking out a personal loan, be sure you’re financially able to make the payments, even after considering potential child care costs.
4. 401(k) Loans or Withdrawals
Depending on your plan, you may be able to borrow from your 401(k) through what’s called a “hardship withdrawal” or “unforeseeable emergency” loan. However, it will require disclosing your family planning to your employer, which could come with its own set of issues.
Other drawbacks to be aware of include taxes or other penalties, and if you need to quit work or lose your job, you’ll be required to pay back the loan within 60 days. Also, while debt can be repaid dollar for dollar, it’s much harder to replace retirement savings without the benefit of time because every day the money is out of your account, you’re missing out on the benefits of compound interest.
If you have a Roth IRA, however, it might be less impactful to borrow from there. Contributions to a Roth IRA are made after-tax, and you can make withdrawals at any time without taxes or penalties.
5. Credit Cards
Although this is the most common method for covering the costs of fertility treatments, according to CNBC, it’s also potentially the most detrimental depending on how much you charge to your cards and at what interest rate. Credit cards have higher interest rates than many other forms of debt, so think twice before charging thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to a card at a 20% or higher APR.
If you end up resorting to credit cards, try to pay off as much of the balance as possible as soon as you can. When it comes to fertility, time is sometimes of the essence, especially if you’re in your late 30s or early 40s. But if your doctor tells you that you can spare the time, you might want to consider taking short breaks between treatments to pay down debt. Otherwise, you could end up facing a financially crippling situation or even bankruptcy.
Dealing with infertility is difficult enough without adding the financial strain of continued treatment. Unfortunately, unless you’re one of the few Americans who work for a company that covers infertility treatments — or are wealthy enough to pay out of pocket easily — figuring out how to deal with the financial impact is inevitable.
And although you may be willing to spend every dime you have or more on becoming a parent, you must weigh your desire to have a child against what it could mean for your future and that of any potential children.
While it’s impossible to put a price on parenthood, keep in mind that’s not what you’re actually trying to do. Instead, you’re trying to make decisions that will help you and any future children you may have live the best possible lives.
Are you struggling with affording the costs of infertility? Are there any suggestions you would add to this list?