There are lots of crushingly worrying and awful aspects to IVF, but I think money has to be one of the biggies for most people. Even though so many more women turn to ART these days, we are really the lucky few.
In the UK, depending where you live, the National Health Service will give you up to three free cycles if you have a diagnosed fertility problem and are between 23 and 39. Service seems to be patchy, though, and slow moving – working your way through all the pre-appointments and tests can take a while, and there are long wait times before you even get started. I don’t know how much it costs to do it via the private system.
In Australia, Medicare refunds part of the cost – in my case we did one cycle that cost $10,500 and Medicare gave us just over $5,000 back.
In the US it just seems brutal. Friends have spent $30,000 to $45,000 per cycle, without any help from insurance.
For most people, that’s a hell of a lot of money, if not unthinkable.
This has been on my mind a lot lately because I made a calculated career risk a few years ago to take a job I had always wanted. It opened up a whole new world for me – I met the love of my life, gained a new language, experienced another culture, developed my career skills and contacts. But it also means I am earning about a fifth of my old salary.
This would have been fine if the love of my life and I had managed to conceive the old-fashioned, natural, cheap way, with a starry night at the beach and a bottle of red wine. Instead, we have spent about $14,000 or so on two cycles of IVF, and more (haven’t kept track) on two or three sets of diagnostic tests and a laparoscopy for endometriosis. My insurance does not cover any infertility treatments, but it did cover the laparoscopy for example. My family has helped me – something I never wanted to ask for, but when that biological clock is ticking, there is no time to waste on pride.
This probably seems like a bargain to anyone in the US, even if it was a big hit for me, proportionally.
That’s why I wanted to write this post, for women out there who are asking themselves those same questions. More and more women are going overseas for treatment on “IVF holidays” (ha, no one who ever did IVF would call it a holiday). They are going to India, to Czech Republic, to Scandinavia, Mexico, Barbados… all over.
Our second cycle, in Peru of all places, has given us a BFP.
Peru is not one of those countries with an “IVF holiday” industry. I would only recommend my own doctor. He is US-trained, fluent in English, and very up to date in the latest IVF thinking. He put me on a regime that included prednisone to address immunological issues, and Femara to help my “older” eggs along. We ended up transferring two blasts and freezing one.
Unlike Australia, where I was in the clinic every second day to have blood drawn or an ultrasound check, I saw my doctor maybe every five days or so during stimulation. The staff and nurses were very caring, and if I had any problems I just called my doctor on his cell. I did most of the injections myself but for the IM butt shots, a nurse can come to your house for $10.
All up it has cost about $7,000. Maybe that pricetag, even with a few international flights added on, would be manageable for someone who is struggling to make it work in the US or elsewhere. If it does I am happy to pass on information.