How to Navigate the Financial and Emotional Costs of IVF
When it comes to assisted reproductive treatments like IUI and IVF, costs can vary based on the state, health insurance, fertility diagnosis, and so much more. Finding the right treatment or family planning path for you and your family is also complicated.
The medical system and health insurance system don’t make it any easier.
According to the CDC, 1 in 5 women struggle with getting pregnant after one year of trying. A new study published by Maven Clinic, a virtual clinic specifically for women and family’s health, also found that nearly 97% of all women surveyed said they felt inadequately prepared when walking into their first fertility appointment and considering treatment.
Navigating the financial costs of fertility treatments
Additionally, 55% of women surveyed said they did not know what their insurance or employer covered if anything at all.
“What we found is that the vast majority of the members that we've spoken with worry about a lot of different things related to getting their fertility treatment,” explained Will Porteous, Chief Growth Officer at Maven Clinic. “One of which is they don't understand the cost, and they definitely don't understand the full cost of all the different pieces that have to come together in order for you to have a successful pregnancy.”
For instance, according to the Human Rights Campaign, adoption could start at $5,000 and surpass over $50,000, depending on each family’s unique circumstances.
Asking the right questions from the first fertility appointment
Porteous encourages families to prioritize finding the right support system that can help them demystify fertility treatments.
“Find someone knowledgeable of the full journey soup to nuts that's really critical in helping you set appropriate expectations,” explains Porteous. “And unfortunately, in the way that our healthcare system is structured, there is rarely that single point of contact that can help you fully understand it.”
So instead of finding a perfect person, aim to find a team of experts (both within the field or who have experienced a similar fertility journey first-hand) who can ensure you don’t navigate the logistics alone. It’s also okay (and even encouraged) to ask specific questions when meeting with your care team or fertility clinic about your own life, relationship, or fertility journey, explains Porteous.
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According to Porteous, Maven clinic patients often ask questions like:
What will be paid for?
How much will I have to pay out of pocket?
Are your care advocates trained to work with my health insurance?
Are your care advocates trained to work with LGBTQIA+ couples?
Because health insurance often only covers fertility treatments for those who are officially diagnosed with infertility, many members of marginalized communities can often be left on the wayside. For instance, health insurance may not kick in if someone does not have access to care to get an official diagnosis. The same goes for members of the LGBTQIA+ community who may not medically struggle with infertility but for whom ART is the only option for growing their family.
The emotional costs of fertility treatments
Porteous, who, in addition to working at Maven Clinic, has also personally navigated the surrogacy journey with his husband, also shared that in addition to the financial costs, often the emotional tax of navigating ART is one that many are not adequately prepared for.
According to Maven’s report, 81% of the women surveyed shared that the emotional stress of fertility treatment is equal to, if not stronger than, the financial stress of treatment.
The MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health notes that both depression and anxiety symptoms are higher for couples navigating infertility than they are for those who are not navigating infertility.
“One of the most commonly accessed resources on Maven is behavioral health support,” shares Porteous. “So that's why having a robust behavioral health support system is really critical because I can again tell you firsthand, the number of roadblocks that you'll experience throughout this journey is significant and…so the more access you have to support, the better off you are.”
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Vivian Nunez is a writer, content creator, and Happy To Be Here podcast host. Her award-winning Instagram community has created pathways for speaking on traditionally taboo topics, like mental health and grief. You can find Vivian @vivnunez on Instagram/TikTok and her writing on Medium and her blog, vivnunez.com.