How much would you pay to keep me from making more babies?
August 1, 2012 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Is there a website I could use to find anonymous donors to help pay for my vasectomy?

I have five kids. Although I think they are amazing and wouldn't trade any of them for the world, I do not want to have any *more* kids. Five is plenty. My wife agrees.

I scheduled a vasectomy, assuming my health insurance would help pay for it, and was all psyched up to get it done, but was surprised to find out that my insurance covers 0% of this procedure because it is considered elective. (Never mind the fact that adding more kids to my family plan costs me $0 more, so the insurance company will lose money if I have more kids...)

I called the doctor to discuss my upcoming appointment and found out that it costs $998 and the money is due up-front. I don't have that kind of money and can't think of anything I could sell to raise that much, so my wife got a 5-year IUD to keep us child-free for the time being.

Having said all of that, does anyone know of a site - like Kickstarter - that would allow me to crowdsource funds for something like this? I haven't heard of anything like it, and my rudimentary searches haven't turned up anything either. It's pretty unlikely that anyone would be willing to donate money for someone else's elective procedure, but it's possible, right?

Also, would this be ethical? I am responsible for my own actions and can certainly use other methods to keep from having children, but most contraceptives have drawbacks that keep me from using them. A semi-permanent solution - like this surgery - would be ideal.
posted by tacodave to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would build a very clever and witty Kickstarter page, where if they donate $10, then your theoretical child will not place a telemarketing call to them, because he won't exist. If they donate $20, then he will not beg for money from them on the street. For $50, he will not steal their job. And so on.

And then put it on Reddit.

The first one of these things usually gets funded.
posted by musofire at 5:28 PM on August 1, 2012 [21 favorites]

You have 5 years to save $1k, I don't think that's what kickstarter is for. That said, there's nothing unethical about being honest with people about what you're asking for and why, and letting them make their own decision to donate or not.
posted by headnsouth at 5:37 PM on August 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

This doesn't address your actual question, so my apologies if you've tried this, but have you contacted your local Planned Parenthood? I'm not sure if they actually perform vasectomies, but they might be able to give you some options/ideas about how to get one at a lower cost.
posted by kitty teeth at 5:38 PM on August 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Indiegogo says you can use it to raise money for anything. If you can frame it as 'art' you could put it on kickstarter maybe? You'd have to be careful to make it fit their guidelines.

I don't see anything unethical in asking for money so long as you are honest and clear about what you will do with it. If nobody wants to give you money for a vasectomy, you won't get any. (I would save up anyhow in case that happens).
posted by jacalata at 5:39 PM on August 1, 2012

You may also want to shop around a bit, that price seems a bit high for an outpatient event in your physician's office. Planned Parenthood’s vasectomy page says: “Nationwide, the cost of a vasectomy ranges from $350–$1,000, including the follow-up sperm count. (Sterilization for women costs up to six times as much.) Some clinics and doctors use a sliding scale according to income."
posted by HuronBob at 5:40 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer:
posted by Michele in California at 5:42 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also check into care credit, a credit account for health related purchases. Most purchases come with x years of zero percent financing, and they are fairly easy to get approved for.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:51 PM on August 1, 2012

I was just coming in to suggest as well.
posted by goggie at 5:51 PM on August 1, 2012

If you have a flexible spending account or health savings account at any point in the next five years you can use it to pay for the surgery tax-free.
posted by grouse at 5:58 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you willing to pretend to be a drug addict, or maybe even become one temporarily? Would be nice to see you take some of Barbara Harris' money.
posted by cairdeas at 6:06 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

I paid $175 at Planned Parenthood in 2008. I believe the payment was calculated on a sliding scale. Being unemployed at the time I think it was based off my wife's salary, but I could be wrong.
posted by Kale Slayer at 6:22 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Federally funded community health centers also operate on a sliding fee scale.
posted by lakeroon at 6:53 PM on August 1, 2012

Thanks to your wife's IUD, you've got 5 years. Sign up for a SmartyPig account to set up a goal-based savings plan. Then get a part time job or make regular small deposits into your SmartyPig account. You can do it all on your own.
posted by matty at 7:21 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Two clarifications:

1) My wife and I make enough money that a sliding scale eliminates health clinics or PP. We are outside the income bracket for help since we both work full-time. Plus, I'd rather save those resources for lower-income people whose needs are more pressing (not that we're high income - probably lower-middle class).

2) Even though we make decent money, we don't make enough to actually save as some people have suggested. I think it has something to do with the size of our family. A good week is one when we don't run out of cash and survive using spare quarters for gas money to get to work. I would *love* to be able to save up the money, but there's always something new that requires a total wipeout of our savings. This week it was a healthcare-related bill for $300. And due to our family situation (I work days, she works nights on the weekend) a part-time job is out of the question too.

And I don't mean to sound whiny. Life is good and I'm thankful for my job and family. Let me reiterate that.
posted by tacodave at 9:43 PM on August 1, 2012

The last school auction I was at had a vasectomy as one of the silent auction items. I recall it went for the minimum bid of $300.
posted by vespabelle at 9:52 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

tacodave: "we don't make enough to actually save as some people have suggested."

Reconsider. You have 5 years until your wife's IUD runs out. Get yourself a piggy bank and put your pocket change in there. If you can save $5 a week, you'll meet your goal and a little extra in 5 years. The key here is you're just going to not have to touch that money. It's off limits. It might help you to get an opaque bank and try not to calculate how much money you've put in there... that way you won't think to yourself "gee that (X_AMOUNT) in the bank could really help me..."

If you like this sort of thing, do a web search on "how to save $1000 in a year." Then you can meet your goal much sooner, or not make all the cuts each article suggests and save over the full 5 years.

To answer the question in your title, I personally would not donate to your cause. You have a viable alternative in your wife's IUD which she already has, your situation could potentially change in the next 5 years and you will have enough money, and there are other forms of contraception. For one, I think the new healthcare act that was just passed provides free birth controll pills to women. You said drawbacks keep you from using other methods but don't mention which drawbacks. There are workarounds. Condoms give you a lack of sensation? I'm sure there are some threads around here with a solution to that. (Just an example.)
posted by IndigoRain at 11:26 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

The UK institution Private Eye has a classified ads section where people just ask for money for just this sort of thing. No idea if it has ever worked for anyone, but if you write a very short preferably witty request you might just get lucky:
posted by runincircles at 12:44 AM on August 2, 2012

My wife and I make enough money that a sliding scale eliminates health clinics or PP

Sliding scales usually take the size of your family into account. You may well qualify.
posted by yohko at 3:52 AM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I agree with others. I've seen friends use with some success. The key is that people don't just stumble upon it so you have to be willing to put yourself out there to family and friends or come up with another way to market it.

Even if you go that route, you should have a plan in place in case you don't make enough to cover the costs. $1000 is a lot of money even with you break it down year to year, I know. $200/year still sounds like a fair bit, but $4/week is probably manageable as long as you really put the money away and don't touch it. If you are living as paycheque to paycheque as you describe there's probably not much discretionary spending to cut, but take a look at your budget. Can you buy something in generic that you aren't right now? Are you getting the best deal possible for your cell phone? Internet? Have you called and asked about better rates? What are you paying in bank fees? There are small places to make small cuts in almost everyone's budget. Even if you put away $2/week and go the gofundme route, you'll have a bit of a cushion if the donations come up short.
posted by GilvearSt at 4:55 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just saw an obituary yesterday where the family was asking for donations through WePay because they couldn't afford the cost of the funeral. There's a donations page that specifies medical expenses, so it should work for you guys.
posted by jabes at 6:36 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure when your insurance plan year begins, but from what I've read, sterilizations are now covered by the Affordable Care Act! Can you stick it out for a few months until you roll over into a new plan year? Your procedure might soon be copay-free!
posted by theraflu at 6:41 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why not just use IUDs until menopause?
posted by hishtafel at 9:50 AM on August 2, 2012

Best answer: Things friends of mine have done when faced with non-covered medical expenses:

--Borrow from 401k.

--Complain about the non-coverage to an administrator or employee hotline. It the case of a recurrent expense, their employer eventually got the item covered. Or otherwise try to address the non-coverage.

You could combine the two approaches by going to talk with someone in your benefits department about this situation.

But if the Affordable Car act works out, that's perfect.

I could actually see a kickstarter type appeal to strangers working if it was very rad and humorous, though. "Keep me from procreating" with a picture and statement that makes the idea seem appealing, something like that. Personally I would not use a format that required soliciting people you, know because they will be apt to think you're asking for something that's pretty far down the scale of urgent needs. (I don't happen to think that so much; I hate chemical birth control and IUDs and the failure rates with most methods, but that's just me.)
posted by BibiRose at 9:54 AM on August 2, 2012

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