How Much Does a Surrogate Cost?

By Anna Davies · July 20, 2023 · 7 minute read

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How Much Does a Surrogate Cost?

Using a surrogate, also known as a gestational carrier, involves an arrangement in which a woman carries and gives birth to a child for another couple or individual.

Surrogacy can allow would-be parents an opportunity to have a baby with whom they have a biological link. But gestational carrying can also be complicated, with complex laws and medical procedures that can make the process expensive.

The cost of using a surrogate can run anywhere from $100,000 to $225,000, depending on where you live, whether you need an egg donor, and how many rounds of IVF your surrogate will go through before she conceives.

Read on to learn more about potential fees involved in using a surrogate, as well as some ways to make the process more affordable.

Why is Surrogacy so Expensive?

The lump sum of surrogacy can seem overwhelming. But it’s important to keep in mind that the estimated overall cost is based on averages.

Because surrogacy is unique for all families, your expenses may differ. But knowing the various elements of surrogacy can help you see how each cost plays into the overall price. Here are some typical surrogacy costs that aspiring parents should anticipate.

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Agency Fee

Because fertility clinics do not find surrogates, would-be parents typically need to find a carrier through a personal connection or an agency. Surrogacy agencies, which have a network of surrogates who have met certain requirements, charge fees that can run $30,000-plus.

The fee covers all of the services provided by the agency, including background checks, screenings, support and education, advertising, marketing, and more.

Agency fees should remain fixed, regardless of how long it takes to complete the surrogacy process.

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Surrogate Fee

Working with a gestational carrier can be expensive, running somewhere between $30,000 and $70,000. This fee is paid to the surrogate as compensation for undergoing tests and fertility treatments, carrying and delivering the child, taking on the medical risks involved, and putting themselves through the physical and emotional challenges that surrogacy and pregnancy can involve.

Fertility Clinic Fee

You will also need to work with a fertility clinic to produce embryos. In many cases, couples have already done this before pursuing surrogacy. This can range from $20,000 to $50,000.

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Pregnancy Costs

The cost of carrying and delivering a baby can vary in the U.S., depending on location, type of birth, and whether there are any complications, but tends to average around $14,000. The surrogate’s insurance may or may not cover any of this cost. If the surrogate doesn’t have health insurance, the would-be parents may need to purchase a short-term or maternity-only policy for them.

Legal Fees

Surrogacy can involve several psychological, ethical, and legal complexities, and typically requires legal contracts that outline each parties’ responsibilities and compensation.

The intended parents and surrogate typically each need an attorney to negotiate and draft this contract, as well as complete other necessary services. The Intended parents typically pay for everyone’s legal expenses, which can cost from $7,000 to $15,000.

Other Potential Costs

Other expenses that can come up include travel, pregnancy clothing, lost wages, payment for breast milk, and counseling fees.

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Is Surrogacy Covered by Insurance?

Surrogacy is not typically covered by health insurance, but the situation isn’t always cut and dry. Some health insurance plans include language that clearly specifies the plan does not cover costs for a woman for surrogacy, while a few plans state that they do provide coverage.

Many insurance plans, however, don’t make it entirely clear whether they do or don’t cover surrogacy. Surrogacy agencies, however, can often help intended parents evaluate the surrogate’s health insurance plan to determine whether or not the pregnancy will be covered.

In some cases, the would-be parents will need to purchase outside insurance for the surrogate from a comprehensive surrogacy insurance agency, which can run $12,000 to $30,000.

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What To Know About Surrogacy Fees

Surrogacy fees are a large portion of the overall surrogacy price tag. But there are ways to possibly minimize these fees.

One common route is using what’s called a “compassionate” surrogate. This is someone — perhaps a friend or relative — who does not want a fee for surrogacy. While the would-be parents will be responsible for expenses, eliminating a carrying fee can make surrogacy much more affordable.

Another option is to search for a surrogate independently instead of going through an agency. This can minimize fees, but can also potentially be complicated because of the complexities involved in surrogacy.

Some families choose a surrogate who lives outside the United States as a way to save on potential costs. International surrogacy may be facilitated by an agency in the home country of the potential surrogate. This too, however, may come with risks including legal risks and travel complications.

Regardless of whether a family uses an agency, a connection, or pursues a surrogate through an independent channel, they will still likely need to use a reproductive lawyer to craft a legal agreement, as well as psychological counseling for all parties to make sure everyone has a place to explore the complex emotions that can come from surrogacy.

How to Pay for Surrogacy

Many people don’t have an extra six figures sitting around in a bank account that they can tap to pay for using a surrogate. But there are some ways that hopeful parents can find funds. Here are some options you may want to consider.

Employee benefits and health insurance. It’s not very common for companies to offer a surrogacy benefit, but it can’t hurt to inquire. There are some companies that offer a maximum family-planning benefit that could be used for processes such as surrogacy. It can also be worthwhile to check your own health insurance benefits. While it may not cover the surrogate’s pregnancy, it may cover procedures would-be parents need to undergo.

Saving up in advance. If you are planning surrogacy for some time in the future, you may want to start putting cash away every month into a savings account, ideally with an above-average interest rate, set up specifically for surrogacy. You can also automate savings by setting up a recurring monthly deposit into this account so it happens no matter what.

Considering financial resources. Some aspiring parents may want to reach out to their family for financial help, or even crowd-source funds through their social media networks. Others may tap into equity, such as a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or borrowing from their 401(k). Of course, it can be a good idea to explore the pros and cons of these types of loans, including a timeline to pay them back.

Taking out a personal loan. Taking out a personal loan, sometimes referred to as a family planning loan, can be a good option for some would-be parents. Unlike a credit card, a fixed-rate personal loan gives transparency over interest rate and exactly how much money you’ll need to pay back for the life of the loan.

Personal loans can also come with significantly lower interest rates than credit cards. Prior to applying for a loan, it can be a good idea to understand any fees and penalties. Surrogacy agencies and fertility centers also may have loans available.

Applying for a grant. There are some national, regional, and local grants available for some families pursuing surrogacy. Qualifying for a grant may depend on income, location, and personal situation.

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The Takeaway

Surrogacy is a process that can help would-be parents have a baby, but it typically comes with considerable costs. These expenses include the medical, legal, and insurance fees that come with contracting a surrogate.

While costs can vary widely based on your location and the type of surrogacy you choose, the total can run around between $100,000 and $225,000.

Because this family-building option is pricey, aspiring parents may want to try to save up in advance, tap certain financial resources, explore grants, and find ways to trim costs, such as asking a friend or family member to be their surrogate.

Another way to help pay for surrogacy is to take out a personal loan, which often comes with a lower interest rate than credit cards.

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This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.


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