The average cost for one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in the United States is $12,400, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. That alone is a hefty price tag, and many patients go through several cycles of IVF before conceiving or attempting other options. Many clinics also charge fees for add-on procedures (some of which are necessary,) which can bring the total cost of a single treatment to well over $20,000.
If you’re wondering how you’ll be able to pay for IVF, the good news is that you have a number of different funding options. These include budgeting and saving, insurance coverage, flexible spending accounts, IVF financing, loans, and grants. Read on for a closer look at ways to make the cost of IVF treatment more manageable.
Options for Financing IVF
For many would-be parents, that high cost of IVF is worth it for the chance to have children. But how can people afford to pay for treatment? Here are a few ideas for funding IVF.
1. Tapping into Your Health Insurance
A good first step is to check whether your health insurance will cover IVF. There are currently 21 states that require insurance companies to cover infertility treatment, but only 14 include IVF in the requirement.
You can contact your insurer to find out your specific benefits. Depending on where you live, coverage can run the gamut. Some plans will cover IVF but not the accompanying injections that women may also require, while other plans will cover both. Some insurers will only cover a certain number of attempts. And some plans do not cover IVF at all.
If you have the option and if the timing works out with your enrollment period, you might consider switching your insurance plan to one that covers, or partially covers, IVF.
2. Using Your Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account
A health savings account (HSA) allows you to put pre-tax money aside for medical expenses. Typically, you get an HSA in tandem with a qualifying high-deductible health plan. If you have funds in your HSA, you can use them to pay for IVF and related medical expenses. As long as you paid for the expenses after you opened the HSA, you can reimburse yourself for them at any time — it doesn’t have to be in the year that you incurred the costs.
If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA), you can also use those funds to pay for IVF. You don’t need a qualifying health plan to have and use this account. However, you can only use the funds for medical expenses incurred during the plan year. Also, if you don’t use all of the money you set aside, you generally lose it. However, you may be able to carry over a certain amount to the following year.
Bear in mind that there are annual limits on how much money you can contribute to either kind of account. For 2023, the individual cap on HSA contributions is $3,850 and the family cap is $7,750. Health flexible spending account limits are $3,050 for 2023.
3. Budgeting and Saving
If you’re planning to pay for IVF out-of-pocket and you don’t just have that kind of cash lying around, the most basic financial move is to save up, the way you would for any major expense. You may want to open a high-yield savings account dedicated to your IVF fund, then set up an automatic recurring transfer from your checking account into that account each month.
Depending on your timeline, you may need to cut back on discretionary expenses, such as meals out, streaming services, a gym membership, and non-essential purchases, at least temporarily. Any expense you cut can now get diverted into your IFV savings fund.
4. Borrowing From a Loved One
If you have a friend or relative who is financially comfortable, you might consider asking them for a loan. There may be people in your life who would be happy to support your efforts to build your family. If you go this route, however, it’s a good idea to set out the terms of the loan clearly, including whether you’ll pay interest and, if so, at what rate, and when and how you’ll repay the loan. Setting out clear terms, and honoring those terms, can help ensure that the loan doesn’t damage your relationship in any way.
5. Getting a Medical or Fertility Loan
Some fertility clinics work with lenders that specialize in IVF financing. This allows you to pay for your out-of-pocket IVF costs in installments over time. These loans can offer anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, and interest rates can range from 0% to 24.99%. IVF lenders typically determine whether you qualify for financing, and at what rate, based on your financial qualifications and credit. With this type of loan, the money is usually paid directly to the clinic rather than you, the borrower.
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6. Applying for a Grant
A number of nonprofit organizations offer grants and scholarships to those who cannot afford to pay for IVF. These grants are usually income-based, meaning you must demonstrate a need to qualify. Organizations that offer IVF grants include the International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Journey to Parenthood, Gift of Parenthood, the Baby Quest Foundation, and the Starfish Infertility Foundation.
Resolve offers a list of fertility treatment scholarships and grants on their site. It’s also a good idea to ask your fertility clinic about any local or national grant or scholarship opportunities they know of.
7. Taking Out a Home Equity Line of Credit
If you own a home, you may be able to take out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) and use the funds to pay for IVF. The amount you can borrow and the terms depend on the amount of equity you have in your home, as well as your credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and other factors.
The advantage of this type of IVF financing is that home equity loans and credit lines often have lower interest rates than credit cards and other types of loans. The downside is that you need to have equity in order to qualify, and you must use your home as collateral for the loan (which means that if you have trouble making payments, you could potentially lose your home).
8. Borrowing From Your Retirement Account
You generally don’t want to tap your retirement nest egg before retirement, but if no other funding sources are available, your individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k) could be an option.
You may be able to borrow up to $50,000 or half of the amount vested in your 401(k) — whichever is smaller. If you take this path, you are basically lending the money to yourself at market interest rates for up to five years. Keep in mind, though, that 401(k) plan providers will typically charge fees to process and service a loan, which adds to the cost of borrowing and repayment. Also, not all employers offer these loans.
In addition, you might qualify to withdraw money from your individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k) to pay for IVF treatment if your plan allows what’s called a hardship withdrawal. This allows you to avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty, but you’ll still have to pay income tax on any withdrawals you make. If you have a Roth IRA, you can withdraw your contributions (but not earnings) at any time without penalties or taxes.
9. Taking Out a Personal Loan
Compared to using high-interest credit cards or tapping your IRA, a personal loan might be a better option for many people. A personal loan can be used for almost any expense, including IVF, and typically comes with a fixed interest rate that is lower than most credit cards.
Unlike a home equity loan or credit line, personal loans are typically unsecured, which means you don’t need to put your home or any other asset at risk. Also, you do not need to have any equity in your home to qualify. Instead, a lender will look at your overall financial qualifications to determine whether or not to approve you for a loan and, if so, at what rate and terms.
IVF might be one of the most meaningful investments you’ll ever make, but it’s undeniably expensive. You can look to your insurance, health savings accounts, cash savings, or a loved one for help with IVF funding. If that’s not enough, an unsecured personal loan may be a smart way to finance treatment and help make your dreams a reality.
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