Infertile couples are not the only ones taking notice of the booming infertility industry. Consider that investors have caused this industry to flourish, and often the consumer benefits from the creation of more fertility clinics, fertility drugs online and more. One of the chief ways new clinics just opening their doors gain new clients is like any other business…offering a money back guarantee. This is unprecedented for a medical procedure, let alone fertility treatments. However, if you’re able to check your emotional wallet at the door, there are some caveats of which you should be aware. Can you get a refund for failed IVF procedures? The answer is yes, but be careful.
The Fertility Casino Scenario
When anyone suffering with infertility walks into a clinic, it is a gamble as to whether they’ll eventually end up with a child. Statistics show that many women visit more than one clinic over many years attempting to find a good ‘fit’, and someone who is willing to help them try one more procedure to become pregnant and carry a child to term. This roulette effect has coined the term, Fertility Casino.
Many newer clinics, and a few of the older more established doctor offices, have moved toward a higher dollar, longer treatment plan. In other words, you’ll pay more up front, but then the medical group gives you as many treatments as it takes until you become pregnant and deliver a full term baby. For some who have exhausted the traditional rounds through various cycles, and have attempted to save money by buying fertility medications online, this seems like a godsend. However, the catch is this: If you get pregnant the very first time, then all the upfront money you have paid in for the program…..It’s GONE. You do not get that back.
So, for example, say your clinic offers this program. You pay $50,000 (at least 10-20k more than you’d pay for a traditional treatment) and if you don’t get pregnant the first round, you keep trying for a larger and greater number of cycles. If it takes a long time for you to have your child, then the $50,000 may be worth it to you and the gamble has paid off. But if you were to conceive and deliver a child after your first round of IVF, then you’ve paid 30% more than you would have, had you gone the traditional IVF route.
The Math Doesn’t Work in Your Favor
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine reports that the average IVF cycle will run your approximately $12,000, and most need multiple cycles in order to become pregnant. Still, with the package deals beginning at $50,000 and not including IVF meds and other testing you may need, it is easy to see how you’d quickly pay out more using the package deal than if you went ala carte, even purchasing your IVF fertility drugs online. Of course, that’s assuming you get pregnant. Those who do not get pregnant and have a child, would qualify for a refund under the terms of various agreements, but in general, the clinics are fairly sure you are a safe bet if you’ve been admitted to the program. On the plus side, admission to such a program means that the physicians are pretty sure you’ll have your baby. But, of course, the downside is, you’ll pay through the nose for it. Here’s the additional costs your ‘risk sharing’ package won’t cover:
- Office visits and co-pays.
- Blood work and imaging.
- IVF medications and fertility drugs.
- General anesthesia during egg retrieval.
- Egg donor fee and legal fees.
- Embryo storage.
If you still think you’d like to enter into a risk sharing program, make certain the fine print includes having a live birth and taking home a live baby. Sounds criminal, but some clinics consider IVF successful if you’ve become pregnant and stayed pregnant for a length of time. Read the fine print….always. And understand that there are programs out there that do not require you to share risk at all.
Refunds for Unused IVF Cycles
Another option, supported by more physicians, is the practice of offering a refund for unused cycles or program fees by various clinics. This is not required by law and is up to each individual clinic to create the policy. However, most follow a similar procedure. First, you pay for three or more cycles up front for a discount, then if you don’t use them all you receive a percentage of your money back. Often, if you are using donor eggs the refund is 100%. Fertility clinics affiliated with Advanced Reproductive Care, Inc offer this type of service.
Keep in mind that even these types of programs have exclusions. If you fall into any of the following categories, you may not qualify:
- Are a woman over age 40.
- Have already had a high percentage of failed IVF cycles.
- Both you and your partner have been declared infertile.
The IVF Package Deck is Stacked
The current practice for such clinics offering this refund for IVF failure do not admit or make this offer to all who apply. Why? Because screening their patients and accepting only those who have a better than average chance of becoming pregnant make their bottom line work. In many respects, the clinic places its bet that you will get pregnant, and with such a program, you’re betting that you won’t.
Many are calling this new practice unethical because it preys on the emotions of couples who are already emotionally distraught. These baby-or-a-refund type of packaging being offered has been given the name of “risk sharing” packages by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Keep in mind…this up front cost, money back guarantee package….doesn’t include the IVF drugs and may also exclude certain testing you would need. Considering all of this together, going the refund route may not be your best bet.
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