How Much Does IVF Cost in 2023? Fertility Doctors Share the Pointers to Consider
One in five women of childbearing age will have trouble getting pregnant "naturally." Aware of today's economic woes, two fertility doctors share how much IVF costs, how to budget for it, and the IVF discounts you should research. (Yes—sometimes there are coupons!)
Celebrities having babies later in life is a big trend: Janet Jackson had a baby at 50, Hillary Swank at 48, Halle Berry was 47, Laura Linney gave birth at 49, Kelly Preston was 48, Geena Davis had twins at 48, and Brigitte Neilsen was 54 years old when she had her fifth child.
For older hopeful parents, this is encouraging…but most anyone can guess that these women are taking advantage of the science that’s on our side in the 2020s. Biologically, fertility for the average woman or an individual assigned female at birth (AFAB) still declines rather significantly after about 38 years old: By age 45, there’s just a 3% to 5% chance she will get pregnant on her own. Especially for the many families who have been affected by recent employment layoffs, pursuing fertility treatments can seem out of the question. It doesn’t have to be—but there’s a download of IVF wisdom you’ll need to know.
To start, yes—it’s almost certain these Hollywood moms having babies in their forties and fifties are undergoing reproductive assistance says Sherry Ross, MD, an OB/GYN, fertility specialist and the author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. “They’re using assisted reproductive technology, most likely IVF,” Dr. Ross says. “The window of fertility realistically ends around age 40 for most women, and after that the miscarriage rate is over 50%. What you see on TV and on social media can be very misleading, especially if they’re not honest about using fertility treatments.” Dr. Ross adds that these women may have used eggs from donors, while cryopreservation science for egg retrieval—better known as “egg freezing“—has also significantly grown in popularity over the past decade as technologies (and state and national fertility preservation regulations) evolve.
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What is IVF?
IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is one type of assisted reproductive technology (also called fertility treatments). A brief overview of what occurs throughout an IVF treatment is this: A doctor extracts eggs from the woman herself (after she has undergone several weeks of hormonal treatments), or the doctor uses donor eggs, which are then fertilized with sperm outside of the body in a laboratory dish. The fertilized egg, or embryo, is then transferred back into the woman’s uterus where it will hopefully implant and, around 40 weeks later, produce a baby.
There are many factors that go into deciding whether or not to use fertility treatments and IVF specifically—but for many couples a primary dictator is cost, says Anate Aelion Brauer MD, reproductive endocrinologist and IVF Director, SGF-New York Shady Grove Fertility.
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So, how much does IVF cost?
The short answer: On average, IVF in the US costs between $10,000 and $30,000 per treatment.
“IVF is expensive, there is no doubt about it,” says Dr. Brauer, adding that this is a decision that calls for this scale of investment. “Making babies in a lab setting is a risky business that requires the best practitioners and technology—both come at a high price.”
There’s also a more in-depth answer. Here’s how the costs of IVF might break down.
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Factors that influence the cost of IVF
These are the most common factors that affect the bottom number on the IVF bill, according to the doctors we spoke with:
Geographic location: Costs vary widely across the US based on the location alone. One reliable trend is that IVF treatments tend to cost more in major cities, or in areas where the cost of living is high. Often, however, these are the same areas where you’re most likely to find the procedure available at all—and where the most skilled IVF doctors and lab technicians work.
Clinic reputation and success rates: Clinics known to have a good reputation and high success rates often charge more for their services—and it’s always important to check references and reviews of clinics. (One IVF patient’s husband we spoke with works in the medical field and told us Yelp was one resource he and his wife referred to frequently to reach about other patients’ experiences with certain doctors.) Another excellent resource is SART.org, the site for the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology. There, you can research the IVF success rates of doctors and clinics in a given geographical area.
Type of treatment: Within and surrounding the process of IVF, there are several different options for adding on services—such as genetic testing, the use of donor eggs or sperm, and type of embryo storage—and this is likely to cost more. However, many prospective parents find this type of additional investment to be sound.
Age and health of the parent: People who are older, have certain medical conditions, or are predisposed to particular pregnancy complications may require additional monitoring or treatments. This may also be true for semen analysis if the biological parent who is providing sperm is older or has undergone certain medical treatments (chemotherapy as one example).
Insurance coverage: Insurance may cover a portion of IVF but rarely all of it, and sometimes only under certain circumstances—and what it covers will vary from plan to plan.
Additional fertility services: You may need other services to increase your chances of IVF success. These may include hormone treatments to prepare your body, embryo selection and advanced testing, certain medications, facility costs, and storage.
A piece of good news? Talk to your certified public accountant (CPA): It’s not commonly known, even to some CPAs, but some states allow for tax deductions for at least a portion of medical expenses that have gone toward procedures or treatments that are done to ensure pregnancy in the future.
How can you find out how much will IVF cost for you?
Due to the many variables, most clinics will not give pricing over the phone or their website, says Dr. Brauer. “There are simply too many unknowns to give accurate pricing without seeing the patient,” she says. “Additionally, cost cannot be discussed until the patient knows exactly what type of treatment they will need. Schedule a consult with the doctor first to review a history and solidify a treatment plan, then you should be offered a financial consultation to better understand your specific costs and what your insurance will cover.”
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What can you do if you can’t afford IVF?
“This is a common and heartbreaking problem,” says Dr. Brauer. She offers some suggestions for making IVF more affordable:
Choose only what you need: IVF options are many and can add up quickly. Two that you may be able to cut, depending on your situation, are ICSI (intracytoplastic sperm injection) and PGS (preimplantation genetic screening). Your doctor can tell you if these are necessary for your case or just nice to have.
Check benefits coverage from your employer (or, if it applies, your partner’s employer): If you know you will want assisted reproductive technology, look for a job that offers that as part of its benefits package. If it doesn’t include the cost of fertility treatments, some employers offer a separate stipend or fertility benefit that could potentially be negotiated.
Ask about self-pay options: Some IVF programs have creative self-pay programs such as money back guarantees, discount programs and special financing plans.
Ask about need-based help: Some fertility centers will adjust pricing on a sliding scale according to need.
Look for discounts: Clinics may offer discounts or package deals for certain types of IVF.
Check out money back programs: These programs, often called “shared risk” or “fertility access,” are a way to pay for IVF without risking losing all your money if it isn’t successful.
Apply for a grant: In the US, there are several grant programs specifically for help with fertility costs. These include The Cade Foundation, Babyquest and Stardust but there are others, particularly for people of a certain demographic or social group related to factors like religion or race.
Plan your fertility
“From a young age, we teach women about how to prevent a pregnancy, but we teach almost nothing about how to plan for a pregnancy when they are ready,” says Dr. Ross. This planning—learning about your own fertility, your family history, your health risks, and what treatments are available—is ultimately empowering.
“Don’t be afraid of your ‘ticking biological clock,'” she says. “Work with it. As women, we’re encouraged to have this Oh, if it is meant to be it will just happen naturally attitude, when the reality is that having a baby can be a lot of work, time, sacrifice, and money … and those are things you can and should have a plan for,” she says.
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Anate Aelion Brauer MD, Reproductive Endocrinologist and IVF Director, SGF-New York Shady Grove Fertility
Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN and Women's Health Expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA and author of she-ology