What Do You Mean There Is a Start-Up Fee?
All projects, including significant life changes, have start-up costs. Having a baby is no exception. When we first set out on our trying to conceive journey, we made a list of the basic baby gear we would require: crib, stroller, highchair, etc. Our list taught us two things: 1) babies need a lot of stuff and 2) that stuff is expensive. A $2,900 stroller, really? When the time comes, it will certainly be at the top of our registry.
In our case, however, our list was missing a crucial and expensive item—the baby. Conceiving our baby will be our most costly upfront expenditure. Infertility has brought a whole new meaning to the term “start-up fee.” Any infertile who has researched the costs of ART or adoption has faced the dizzying realization that it may cost tens of thousands of dollars just to bring a child into their life. That initial list wasn’t so bad after all.
On average, basic in vitro fertilization (IVF) costs $12,500 and intrauterine insemination (IUI) runs $900. (Adoption could require upwards of $40,000, but that is another post all on its own.) If you are not an infertile, you might not realize that a woman may have to undergo multiple rounds of ART to conceive just one child. This means if a woman must undergo three IVF rounds before she successfully conceives, she will spend nearly $38,000. That doesn’t even include diapers, people.
Some fertility clinics offer a payment plan and a few insurances cover the cost of certain tests and medications; despite this, ART remains an expensive endeavor. These procedures also suck up the precious hours each of us earns while working. No longer are annual and sick leave days spent reading a book on a hammock overlooking the ocean or exploring a foreign location. Uh, yeah, I wish. Instead they are spent in sterile exam rooms with our legs perched in stirrups.
While I have yet to figure out how to buy more time, there is a more unique way to afford ART. In most cases, it won’t cost you anything. Too good to be true, right? Well, like anything that appears this promising, there are some strings. How do you feel about being a study subject?
I kid you not.
Across the nation at various institutions, doctors oversee government sponsored research studies on various aspects of infertility. If you qualify for one, as we did, you may be able to undergo a free ART procedure.
We first learned about these clinical trials from a referring doctor, immediately following an official diagnosis of unexplained infertility. She thought we would be a good candidate for a study they had just started at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The study objective was to determine which course of three ovulatory drugs combined with IUI produced the highest rate of live births with the lowest risk for multiples. The trial included up to four IUIs (for free) and focused on couples diagnosed with unexplained infertility. This is a bit rare as many of the clinical trials I have since found often concern women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
There were no placebos involved, so every patient received legitimate FDA-approved drugs that were randomly assigned. I nearly fell over when I learned they assigned me the only drug in the study that involved needles. It’s amazing what we are capable of when we are pushed.
Obviously, all four IUIs were unsuccessful for us; however, many other women conceived through this study. One woman actually had triplets. I cannot even imagine.
If you are an infertile who is struggling to figure out how you will afford ART and are willing to fill out a little more paperwork, talk to your doctor about possible clinical studies and visit a site like ClinicalTrials.gov to find a study near you for which you may qualify. It’s worth a shot for free!