What You Need to Know About In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Learn what you need to know about IVF, including what it is, how it works, and associated costs.
What is IVF

The price of in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be calculated in numerous ways: medical bills, the cost of medications, stress, time away from work.

A well-designed fertility benefit can help guide the patient through IVF, mitigating financial and emotional expenses that can linger for years, while helping plan sponsors reduce avoidable costs.

What is the IVF process?

IVF combines eggs and sperm in a laboratory setting to produce embryos. The process begins with a prescription for hormones, usually administered via daily injections, which stimulate the patient’s ovaries to develop multiple eggs. When the eggs are mature, a fertility specialist surgically retrieves them while the patient is under general anesthesia. Meanwhile, technicians separate the potential father’s healthy sperm from semen. Eggs and sperm are combined in a laboratory dish, with the goal of the sperm fertilizing the eggs, producing embryos.

The embryos are placed in an incubator and monitored for several days. Those that develop successfully can be transferred into the patient’s uterus during a quick procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia, or they can be frozen for later use. To safeguard mother and babies, experts suggest transferring just one embryo per attempt. Two weeks after the embryo transfer, a blood test determines whether the patient is pregnant.

How much does IVF cost?

Although IVF can be significantly more expensive than other treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), it is significantly more effective. The success rate of IUI is approximately 5% to 20% per cycle. Only 3% of patients seeking fertility treatment use IVF, which is the most advanced treatment available.

  • The medical costs of one IVF cycle can range from $15,000 to $30,000, depending on the provider and the patient’s individual medication needs.
  • Some fertility medications must be used with supplemental or supportive therapies. Additionally, based on Evernorth data, each cycle may require 10 to 15 prescriptions, which can be complicated to manage.
  • On average, patients go through multiple IVF cycles, for a total cost of $50,000.
  • The success rate for each IVF cycle is about 30%, although some physicians have rates that are markedly higher. In addition to mitigating costs for the patients and plan sponsors, a comprehensive fertility benefit can help prospective parents select the ideal doctor. That, in turn, can boost the success rate and reduce the number of cycles needed to conceive and deliver a baby.
  • IVF is often emotionally taxing, especially when women require more than one cycle become pregnant. A well-designed fertility benefit includes access to behavioral health resources to alleviate anxiety and other issues, such as depression.

A comprehensive fertility plan benefits patients and plan sponsors

Patients who have limited or no fertility coverage might need to take out loans, dip into their 401ks or use credit cards to pay for treatments. They also might opt for multiple embryo transplants during each IVF cycle in an attempt to avoid additional treatments, increasing their likelihood of giving birth to multiples and/or babies with low birthweights.

When that happens, plan sponsors must foot substantial bills: On average, the costs associated with prenatal care, delivery, and newborn care of twins are five times higher than a single birth, while triplets and other multiples can cost plan sponsors almost 20 times as much.

These financial and physical risks can be mitigated by providing access to a comprehensive plan that offers expert guidance, helping patients and their doctors determine the best path forward.

Originally published on 1/28/21 and updated on 3/22/23.

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FamilyPath has expanded benefit offerings across family-planning, fertility, pregnancy and postpartum care for employers and health plans. Evernorth is committed to addressing disparities in this category of health benefits and has designed an end-to-end, inclusive benefit in family-planning care for members across both in-house capabilities and new partnership solutions.