Simckes, who has been in the field for more than two decades, said most insurance companies in a majority of states will not cover the costs of fertility treatments. “It’s a very expensive process and there are no guarantees, we are basically just throwing darts at a board,” Simckes said.
There are ways to save on the costs. The industry has sparked a whole subculture of “IVF tourists” who travel to countries like the Czech Republic, where the procedure is less expensive. Simckes’ clinic also offers the service and medications for an average of just more than $8,000 per treatment. “I felt it was too expensive and my idea was to found a clinic that provides the quality at a more reasonable price,” Simckes said.
The other major factor that can add to the cost of having a baby is if there are complications, such as premature birth.
Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a gynecologist at Kaiser Permanente and author of The Preemie Primer, has experienced first-hand the cost of having two boys, both born 14 weeks early. She estimates that with all of the medical costs and special services such as occupational, physical, massage and feeding therapy, as well as the cost of relocating her family from the high altitude of Colorado, where her sons had trouble breathing, the total costs have exceeded $1 million.
“The biggest thing is that no one tells parents how much it will cost if you have a premature baby in the [intensive care unit],” said Gunter. “I was fortunate I had an HMO and my co-pay was the same if they stayed for one week or one month.”
Gunter said it’s difficult to determine an average cost for a premature baby to be in the ICU because each case is different, but it could run from $28,000 for a few days to weeks to more than $1 million if the baby has to stay as many as six months.
In addition to therapy expenses once a baby is released from the hospital, they may need regular oxygen treatment, which could cost $200 per month and a variety of medications. Visits to eye, lung, heart and gastrointestinal specialists may also be required.
“The average preemie has 16 visits to the doctor in the first year,” said Gunter. “Even for those who have insurance with co-pays, the costs can add up.”
The best advice is to make sure you know what your insurance covers and if there are lifetime limits, to check them out and be prepared before that strip turns pink.
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