In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is one of several medical procedures people can undergo to help them build a family. It also is one of the most expensive. On average, a single IVF cycle 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 significant 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 into 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 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 each year. In 2019, almost 84,000 babies that were conceived using IVF or similar technology were born, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks IVF success rates.
How much does IVF cost?
A review of fee charts on several fertility clinic websites shows an IVF cycle generally involves paying a base fee plus additional fees for other services. Those services might 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 circumstances, 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 can take multiple IVF cycles to successfully deliver a baby, which means the total amount you pay can multiply quickly.
For the most accurate estimate, review and compare prices at individual facilities. Many facilities include price information on their websites.
If you’re wondering how to pay for IVF, there are financing 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. Lower-priced services, like testing, are more likely to be covered than more expensive services like IVF, according to a 2020 review of fertility services coverage and use in the United States by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Fifteen states have laws on the books that require insurance companies to cover some 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 more states — Colorado and Maine — have passed laws that will 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 fertility service coverage. That falls short of ensuring coverage since employers are not required to purchase those plans.
Even in states where insurance coverage is mandated, restrictions might force patients to pay for fertility services out of pocket. Some employers are exempt from state mandates based on their size or if they’re self-funded. It’s also common for states to limit eligibility for treatment, requiring couples to have a diagnosis of infertility or set caps that allow insurance companies to quit covering costs after a certain threshold.
Could state abortion bans impact IVF?
So far, it doesn’t appear that state abortion bans affect procedures like IVF in those states. But reproductive health professionals and advocates remain concerned that current or future state laws could include language that would place restrictions on assisted reproductive technology because it involves human embryos.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine analyzed 13 state laws that triggered abortion bans once Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The ASRM found that the potential impact of state laws on procedures like IVF depends on how terms like “embryo,” “unborn child” or “fertilization” are defined.
Most of the state laws analyzed specifically refer to the treatment of embryos inside a pregnant person. However, Utah’s law is written broadly enough that it could apply to embryos created in a lab setting. IVF often leads to the creation of multiple embryos, some of which are not transferred into a patient’s uterus. Some of the remaining embryos are discarded or donated for research.
“One could argue that discarding an embryo or donating an embryo for research use is an intentional or attempted killing of a live unborn child and constitutes an abortion under [Utah’s] definition,” the report states.
The report also states that while abortion laws may not impact IVF yet, they open the door for additional legislation that could have a more direct effect.
“‘Fetal personhood’ legislation — which confers fetuses and embryos the same legal standing as a human being outside the womb — may become more common in the post-Roe world, exposing routine ART procedures such as IVF, preimplantation genetic testing, and the discarding of unused embryos to legal challenge and providers who practice them to potential liability,” the report states.
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Taryn Phaneuf writes for NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.