This article first appeared on IVF Babble
If you are thinking about IVF, what are the first things you need to do to prepare financially? What advice can you give to our followers? We asked Access Fertility for their expert advice on how best to prepare for your journey…
“Find out what the NHS provision is in your area and look carefully at the criteria for your Clinical Commissioning Group to see what you may be entitled to through that route. Bear in mind that NHS provision can take much longer than private treatment so it’s important you look at this early on in your journey.
“If private treatment is required the costs can be high so the first question you need to ask is if you can honestly afford this treatment. You need to channel your inner Martin Lewis and look at all your existing commitments like mortgages or rent, bills and how much disposable income you have left after all the monthly expenses have come out.
“It’s often a good idea to set a limit in your mind too about how much you are prepared to spend on treatment. The average success rate for all cycles in the UK is only 23 percent so most people will need more than one cycle (we offer 3 cycle packages) so you need to plan with that in mind.
“The key thing is to get the initial screening tests and a consultation with the fertility specialist as soon as you can. This will help to identify what the issues are and what treatment and medication you require, which is the only way to get an accurate idea of costs.”
What should I expect to pay for when it comes to IVF? Are there any hidden costs I should look out for? Medication, extra tests?
“Exact IVF costs vary depending on the individuals concerned. This is why you will struggle to find a fixed sum that you can easily look up online for a private IVF cycle. Check out this cost calculator to get a rough idea.
“There are some things that most couples may need, however even these IVF costs can be variable and are, of course, different for those using donor eggs or sperm:
- Consultations and investigations
- IVF (with ICSI if required – usually required in about 50 percent of cases) or donor treatment costs
- Freezing and storage
- Frozen Egg Transfer
- HFEA fee
“As a guide, an average IVF cycle can start at anywhere from around £5,000 upwards. However, until you have the investigation tests and initial consultation you won’t know for sure what treatment you require and, therefore, the IVF costs involved. But remember even those initial tests can cost hundreds of pounds.
“Medication can also be a big cost that isn’t included as a standard part of IVF cycles. The cost of medication can also vary a great deal as different patients will have different needs. Some people may spend a few hundred pounds per cycle on meds, whereas others could be spending £1,500 or more per cycle.
Statistics show that the first round of IVF is usually unsuccessful. If this is the case, do clinics ever offer a discounted first or second round to offer some relief? Does this happen?
“Some clinics do offer discounted multi cycle packages but more commonly the costs will be per cycle. It’s important to do some research with your preferred clinics to see if they offer this, and if so, what is included and what is excluded. You don’t want to take on something that looks like a great deal to then find there are lots of things not included that come at an additional cost.
In recent months clinics have started to offer money back guarantees and refund schemes. How do these work?
“Refund programmes are now commonly available all over the UK. You apply for the programme of your choice,: 100 percent, 70 percent or 50 percent refund options. You then have your initial tests at your clinic and Access Fertility review the results to determine eligibility for the refund programme. Currently these programmes are only available to patients under 40 (49 if using donor eggs) and nine out of ten people are eligible.
“You pay a single fixed fee and the programme covers up to three fresh cycles and unlimited frozen transfers. That gives you the best possible chance of having a baby.
“However, in the unfortunate case the patient doesn’t have a baby, they will receive up to a 100 percent refund of the fee (depending on the programme selected). No questions asked, straight back into your account.
It gives patients real peace of mind that they are not risking their life savings on something that might not work.
Can you explain how Access Fertility can help? Is this available to everyone?
“Access Fertility is available to everyone, including same sex couples and single women looking to fulfil their dream of having a baby. Access packages remove a lot of stress as there is one price that includes the majority of things you need. You pay your money upfront, we then do the rest so you can focus on your treatment with the peace of mind that we’ve got your treatment covered.
“An Access Fertility treatment package includes: all your main IVF or ICSI costs; unlimited frozen embryo transfers; 1 year of freezing and storage; one cancelled cycle; and some add on treatments such as Timelapse and Blastocyst, which would usually come at an additional cost. All this for one fixed, upfront payment and the guarantee of up to 100 percent refund if you do not have a baby, depending which programme you use.”
Are there banks that offer loans especially for those who need help funding fertility treatment? Which banks or funding organisations give the best saving rates?
“As far as we are aware there aren’t any specific fertility treatment loans as such but you can approach any bank for a loan that you can then use for this purpose. The key thing the banks will look at for a loan is affordability. A bank will consider the outgoings you have and your net income to make a decision on whether or not you are likely to be able to afford the repayments.
“You can find affordability calculators on the banks’ websites where you can enter how much you would like to borrow, over how long and it will tell you how much it would cost you each month. This is helpful to give you an idea of how affordable it is.
“But it’s worth remembering that banks may be reluctant to help someone planning fertility treatment. Many people take time out from work when they have a baby, which can mean their income drops. This can make banks unwilling to lend as they worry new parents may struggle to repay their loan.”
Many people will put themselves into thousands of pounds of debt to have a child? What support is out there to give impartial and independent financial advice?
“You definitely need to get financial advice if you are going to put yourself in debt that you may not be able to easily afford.
You can often find a list of local financial advisors online. You should make sure they have good reviews and are registered with relevant bodies. Be aware though that some independent financial advisors may charge, though many offer a consultation for free. Banks are a safe way to get free financial advice and most branches offer appointments with a financial advisor. This is always the route I would start with first and they may also know of other approved financial advisors in the area.”
What is the best piece of financial advice you can give anyone who is about to start a fertility journey?
When planning for funding IVF, here are our top tips for your journey:
- Be wary of using credit cards due to the high interest rates and the open ended nature of these products. It is often a better option to look at a loan instead as you get better rates and have a structured plan for repayments.
- Make sure you can afford repayments. If you have trouble affording repayments this can cause significant problems in other areas of your life.
- Keep the debt you do require to a minimum – it may be that you need to step back and consider how you could cut back on costs and save some money upfront.
- Do your research to find the best option and best rate – speaking to a financial adviser is very helpful.
- Compare and contrast prices and packages across different clinics.
- Look for multi cycle treatment packages and compare what is included within them to get the best value for money you can.