October 18, 2012

Financing Fertility Treatment: Don’t Spend More Than What is Needed!

Recently, there have been several reports on the cost of IVF treatment and taking out loans to pay for treatment. After all, as noted in this July 2012 article, it’s not uncommon to take out loans for a car, purchase of a home, college education, and even fertility treatment to create a family. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine estimates that the average cost of one cycle of IVF is between $12,000 to 13,000 per cycle. Yes, per cycle…and the reality is some patients will need to pay for 2 or more treatment cycles to achieve the goal of a healthy baby. There are also other costs that can begin to add up, such as medications. With only 15 States having some type of mandate to offer or cover infertility treatment, most patients have to come up with a significant amount of money to pursue treatment.

Enter fertility financing or IVF loans. Prior to the 2008-2009, several large National banks offered specific fertility financing options for patients through a credit card. Approved applicants could use their “fertility credit card” for IVF treatment. However, after 2008 and the years following the U.S. financial crisis and destabilization of the economy, several banks and lenders stopped offering fertility specific financing. This trend generated a decreased number of options for patients needing a loan to pay for treatment, but created business opportunities for new lenders. The common thread with all lenders, however, is the same…there is a price to pay for borrowing money. The cost to a patient varies, but typically can include an initial up front fee that is a percentage of the total amount borrowed plus interest rates that can be as high as 25%. Another concern, as noted by renowned bioethicist Arthur Caplan, is when IVF centers have an equity share in a lending company and make additional money off the loans. He notes, “When someone comes and says I can make this possible for you and I can make the financing possible, you really have to be a little bit careful because you’ve got vulnerable, desperate people who want to hear that there’s an answer to their prayers. I’m worried they’re not going to hear the failure and success rate, the interest rate, and what the risks are of the treatments.”

What’s the bottom line? First, patients should ask about the up front cost of treatment and compare that number to other IVF centers. At the Fertility Centers of New England , we have IVF Assist for all self pay patients, which offer patients the price of $6,800 and is all inclusive minus medications. Importantly, patients receive a free third IVF treatment cycle should pregnancy not occur within the first two cycles. This means the cost of three IVF cycles at the Fertility Centers of New England is under $14,000 (compared to the $36,000 to $39,000 elsewhere since the ASRM estimates of $12,000 to $13,000 for just one cycle). Second, patients should be cautious when IVF centers “push” fertility loans or other financing options due to potential financial interests the Center may have in the financial loan institutions they are recommending. We urge patients to ask detailed questions about the lending agency, loan fees, finance rates, and importantly if your doctor or fertility center owns any part of the lending agency. At the Fertility Centers of New England , we have one lending agency for patients seeking that option. The lender is Med Loan Finance and is an independent company not affiliated with the Fertility Centers of New England. Finally, we encourage any patient with questions to contact our team and make an appointment with one of our fertility specialists. The initial consult is free for all self pay patients. The Fertility Centers of New England continues to be the leader in access to affordable treatment options without compromising our high quality of care or our success rates.

 

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Brian E.

Brian E. Miller, Ph.D.