Financing IVF
May 26, 2020 5:58 PM   Subscribe

After many failed rounds of IUI, I am trying to figure out if there is any way in hell I can finance IVF. Is this something you did? I am interested in hearing how people made it work with the following conditions:

-all out of pocket (no fertility coverage from insurance)
-lack of home ownership
-didn’t just magically have that much money sitting around in savings

Note: This question is ONLY about financing IVF, not any other opinions about it you might have.

Please do not respond if you had fertility insurance.

Thank you!
posted by rabbits plinkety plinkety plink to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Here is a list of financing options for infertility treatment from Resolve.
posted by mccxxiii at 6:03 PM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I guess I should have clarified in my question, but: I have done a lot of googling. This question is more about people’s personal experience and recommendations. Thanks!
posted by rabbits plinkety plinkety plink at 6:24 PM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Some overlap in directory listings:

Diagnosis-Based Assistance Programs for Infertility
Crowdfunding for IVF
Fertility within Reach's Grants & Discounts

If you're working with a particular service, in-house counselors have resources, too.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:24 PM on May 26, 2020

We paid all out of pocket. It was just under $20,000 for 2 cycles with about 75% of that being cost of medication. We put it all on a credit card and then paid it off as aggressively as we could by cutting variable expenses to the bone for a few months.

Some clinics have discounts for multiple cycles. My clinic offered 3 cycles for a flat rate (excluding meds). It worked out to about the same cost as 1.75 cycles if purchased individually. My clinic also had a program that allowed patients to return unused medications for a refund. The meds couldn't be resold so they were donated to other patients that had financial need.
posted by subluxor at 6:51 PM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

It doesn't help that much, but things that I have researched include:
- I didn't personally end up going this route, but there's a clinic in upstate New York called CNY, which offers IVF at reduced rates. Some people also do IVF in other countries. If you're able to take time off work to travel, this is a popular option on various online message boards.
- There's always debt (credit cards, clinic-specific financing, etc.)...
- HSA/FSA plans which allow you to use tax-deferred dollars. The HSA works better if you can put money into it for a few years -- we didn't have that time, but if you do, it could make a bigger dent.
- Relatedly, you can get a tax deduction if you spend enough on IVF that it exceeds a certain percent of your taxable income.
- Changing insurance based on my employer options. I know you explicitly said not to include this, but if you don't mind some extra details, I was really surprised by the fact that this is more complicated than originally appears... Even though none of the plans my employer offered technically covered IVF, one plan did ALOT better than the others anyways. This is because my experience was that our IVF clinic has you do a bunch of non-IVF, but fertility-related procedures, such as extra pap smears or blood tests to measure hormone levels during a particular cycle day. On my old insurance, an HMO, NONE of the "extras" were covered, since I wasn't able to convince a PCP to re-order these tests. On a PPO, some of the extras were covered, as long as the IVF clinic was willing to bill under certain diagnosis/claim codes.
- Similarly, medication costs were sometimes covered under a PPO insurance plan, but were completely out-of-pocket before on the old plan. (Again, even though assisted reproduction was explicitly not covered by either plan...I'm still confused by this.) Even the medications that we did end up paying for out-of-pocket were cheaper on the new plan, because we could get them at the payer's negotiated rate. (Meaning, the insurance company didn't pay anything, but the pharmacy still charged us a lower rate than they would charge a random person. Look up PBMs if you want to learn more about this dark area of healthcare.) Other than that, switching meds to generics and/or doing alot of digging into pharma company rebates can also save you a little bit.
- There is an online service called "ulta labs", which makes labs a little cheaper, if insurance won't cover them. GoodRx does something similar for prescriptions.

Overall, even with these "tricks" IVF still cost us an arm and a leg. I don't think there's a magic silver bullet here. Best of luck with your journey!
posted by tinymegalo at 6:55 PM on May 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

(Subluxor's comment reminded me that it's possible to get med donations. There's no one-stop-shop for this, but I've seen women advertise extra meds on resolve support groups, ivf subreddits, as well as local women's communities like social clubs or church groups.)
posted by tinymegalo at 7:10 PM on May 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

We did this. No insurance. I got a second side job for four years and took on as much side work as possible. I worked all of the time. We also applied for some percentage discount for meds which they give to everyone.
posted by melodykramer at 7:37 PM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I agree with tinymegalo that it's worth considering going abroad for IVF. My spouse and moved to Canada shortly before we had IVF -- and it saved us a great deal of money. It would have been a real struggle in the US.
posted by HoraceH at 8:32 PM on May 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

You may want to ask this over at r/infertility. Very active community with a wide range of experiences.
posted by coppermoss at 7:08 AM on May 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine prepaid as many rounds as she could on her credit card (which had a pretty high limit) and then started transferring the balance around to new credit cards with "0% APRs on balance transfer" offers.

I actually don't know the ultimate long-term effect this had on her finances, and I don't really feel comfortable asking her out of the blue since we're not quite as close as we used to be... But she's got a healthy 6-year-old now, and otherwise seems to be doing fine, as far as one can tell casually about that sort of thing.
posted by slenderloris at 12:00 PM on May 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

I threw it on a credit card. At the time I was working a very low paid job, had an ok amount of savings but not enough to cover the whole amount.

Not sure what the tax situation around medical stuff is lately, but at the time, I was able to deduct almost all expenses relating to my IVF treatment.
posted by medeine at 1:52 PM on May 27, 2020

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