By Taryn Phaneuf
What about unused embryos?
This article is reprinted with permission from NerdWallet.
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is one of many medical procedures people can undergo to help them start a family. It is also one of the most expensive. On average, a single cycle of IVF costs between $10,000 and $15,000, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Some states require insurers to cover fertility treatments, including IVF. However, most people pay large sums out of pocket.
What is IVF?
IVF is a process by which a human egg is fertilized outside the body and developed into an embryo before being transferred to a person’s uterus. The process involves medically induced ovulation, egg and sperm retrieval, fertilization and embryo transfer. IVF success rates vary depending on a number of factors, including age and health.
As a type of assisted reproductive technology, IVF can help infertile couples, same-sex couples, or single people to have children. IVF isn’t always necessary to treat infertility — most cases can be treated with medication or surgery, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
IVF contributes to the birth of tens of thousands of babies every year. In 2019, nearly 84,000 babies conceived using IVF or similar technology were born, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks IVF success rates.
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How much does IVF cost?
A review of fee schedules on several fertility clinic websites shows that an IVF cycle usually involves paying a base fee plus additional fees for other services. These services may include consultations, tests, medications, and other procedures that occur throughout the process.
While the average cost is $10,000 to $15,000 per cycle, it depends on each patient’s situation, including whether they have insurance coverage. Requiring donor eggs or sperm, or using a surrogate or gestational carrier, makes the process much more expensive.
It may take several cycles of IVF for a successful delivery, which means the total amount you pay can multiply quickly.
For the most accurate estimate, review and compare prices at individual establishments. Many establishments include pricing information on their websites.
If you’re wondering how to pay for IVF, there are funding options available, as well as IVF grants for those who qualify.
Is IVF covered by health insurance?
Whether you have health insurance coverage for fertility treatments, including IVF, depends on the state you live in and your insurance plan. Low-cost services, like tests, are more likely to be covered than more expensive services like IVF, according to a 2020 review of U.S. fertility service coverage and utilization by Kaiser Family Foundation.
Fifteen states have laws in place that require insurance companies to cover certain fertility services. They include Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah and West Virginia.
Two other states — Colorado and Maine — have passed laws to be enacted in 2023 and 2024, respectively, mandating coverage, according to the National Fertility Association.
California and Texas have state laws requiring insurance companies to offer at least one plan that includes coverage for fertility services. This is not sufficient to provide coverage since employers are not required to purchase these plans.
Even in states where insurance coverage is mandatory, restrictions may force patients to pay out of pocket for fertility services. Some employers are exempt from state mandates depending on their size or if they are self-funded. It is also common for states to limit eligibility for treatment, requiring couples to have an infertility diagnosis, or setting caps that allow insurance companies to stop covering costs after a certain threshold.
Could state abortion bans impact IVF?
So far, it does not appear that state abortion bans affect procedures such as IVF in those states. But reproductive health professionals and advocates remain concerned that current or future state laws could include language that places restrictions on assisted reproductive technologies because they involve human embryos.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine analyzed 13 state laws that triggered abortion bans once Roe v. Wade was overturned by the United States Supreme Court. ASRM has found that the potential impact of state laws on procedures such as IVF depends on the definition of terms such as “embryo”, “unborn child” or “fertilization”.
See also:Michigan judge says prosecutors can’t enforce state abortion ban
Most of the state laws analyzed refer specifically to the handling of embryos inside a pregnant person. However, Utah’s law is drafted broad enough to apply to lab-created embryos. IVF often leads to the creation of multiple embryos, some of which are not transferred to a patient’s uterus. Some of the remaining embryos are discarded or donated for research.
“It could be argued that discarding an embryo or donating an embryo for research purposes is the intentional killing or attempted killing of an unborn child alive and constitutes an abortion under [Utah’s] definition,” the report said.
The report also says that while abortion laws have yet to impact IVF, they open the door to additional legislation that could have a more direct effect.
“Fetal personality” legislation – which gives fetuses and embryos the same legal status as a human being outside the womb – may become more commonplace in the post-Roe world, exposing routine ART procedures such as IVF, preimplantation genetic testing and rejection of unused embryos to legal challenge and providers who perform them to potential liability,” the report states.
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Taryn Phaneuf writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]
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