IVF Guarantee Programs: Are refund plans worth it?
IVF treatment can be expensive and carries a number of risks. Treatment costs may be a major obstacle to many patients who see it as a significant financial burden on their home budget. When we add to it uncertain IVF outcomes, we can easily understand why many patients delay the decision to start treatment. This, however, is a vicious circle that may have a significant effect on patients’ eventual chances of having a baby.
No single infertility treatment guarantees success; couples may attempt multiple IVF cycles and still experience failure. fertility treatment outcomes rely on techniques employed by the very best scientific and medical specialists but even then the dream of having a child is not guaranteed. Success rate is dependent on so many variable issues including age, general and fertility health, and genetics.
In recent times, however, we have witnessed the emergence of IVF guarantee programs which offer packaged IVF treatment options designed to promote pregnancy whilst offering a discount and saving if fertilisation is not achieved. This type of IVF plan is offered and branded by many an IVF clinic under the names of an IVF money back guarantee; an IVF refund programme; a guaranteed IVF program of IVF multi cycle program.
Such programmes offer access to two or three IVF cycles for one payment as well as to fresh and extra frozen embryo transfers. The IVF Refund program cost is typically several times the cost of a single IVF cycle and in Europe, it ranges from €10,000 to €20,000 depending on the type of program and the country.
The various names used for IVF guarantee programs indicates the different ways in which fertility clinics and third party agencies offer incentive based packages to help clarify the price and budget required for a minimum number of treatments. Differences can include full or partial refunds if fertilization or sometimes a live birth is not achieved or differences in the number of cycles offered to patients.
IVF guarantee programs vary and therefore you will need to spend some time considering the range of schemes designed to enable you to access fertility help successfully.
IVF refund program: The essentials
- An IVF refund program offers treatment programmes at a fixed price with refund payments available if you do not conceive or have a baby. The price of the programme, together with the numbers of cycles offered and the amount of refunds available will vary between each provider or IVF clinic.
- The fee you will pay for a multi cycle programme of treatments should be less than if you were paying for each cycle individually but you should be aware that if you conceive or give birth after one or two cycles you may have paid more than if you had paid for a cycle at a time. Additionally and ordinarily, you will not get a refund on any unused cycles.
- Programmes might offer additional services such as medication costs, embryo transfer, donor sperm, cycle monitoring and any freezing and storage required.
- Not everyone qualifies for an IVF money back guarantee programme as access to them is reliant on you satisfying a number of eligibility criteria.
- An IVF refund program provides a specific guarantee which may vary between programmes. You will need to check if the programme you are interested in repays money if fertilization takes place or not or at the point of a live birth.
- It is important to be aware of the naming conventions used for such offers. A “guarantee” label may suggest a predetermined outcome a clinic obliges itself to. However, what the clinic actually offers is a refund “guarantee” in case the treatment does not conclude with satisfactory results. The reason is simple – there are no “guarantees” in medicine. The only guarantees we can be sure of are financial in nature.
IVF Refund and IVF Money Back Guarantee programs differ on the grounds of the ‘success’ definitions and the percentage of refund. There are programs which aim to achieve a clinical pregnancy, defined variably as a patient being 6, 7 or 12 weeks pregnant. In other programs, the main goal is defined as the live birth of a child. When it comes to the refund itself, there are options in which the patient doesn’t receive a refund if the treatment is successful. In others, the patient still receives a partial refund if more than one cycle is needed to reach the desired result. It is also worth noting that refund programs for IVF are available both for treatment using the patient’s own eggs, as well as donor eggs.
IVF Guarantee Programs: Who Qualifies
Each provider will use specific eligibility criteria when deciding who can access fertility under their guaranteed IVF program. An IVF refund program will usually be offered to patients under the age of 40 (although this age cap varies between fertility clinics and third party agencies) using their own eggs or those seeking the assistance of a donor. You might also be required to undertake a medical examination.
Eligibility criteria may include medical tests such as sperm quality analysis or karyotyping (in egg donation treatment it is required only for a male partner). An important requirement for an IVF Refund Program is an appropriate BMI (Body Mass Index) – not higher than 35 in IVF with donor eggs programs.
The maximum age of the patient is regulated by country-specific legislation but it is usually around 50 years old. However, in case of treatment using your own eggs, the maximum age is 39. It needs to be noted that patients aged 37 to 39 receive smaller refunds.
IVF Refund/IVF Guarantee Programs are sometimes called IVF shared risk, because in practice these are the successful patients who finance the treatment of those who need more time. They also cover the risk of the clinic offering such treatment. This is exactly how any shared risk program works. And this isn’t bad at all – as long as you as a patient are fully informed of all the aspects (both positive and negative).
IVF money back guarantee: The pros and cons
IVF guarantee programs are liked by many. Firstly, patients know exactly what the cost implications are and what services they will receive. Success rates under these programs tend to be high as the clinics must demonstrate a good success rate to participate. Programmes also offer comprehensive screening for participants like offering karyotyping to ensure there are no issues around the composition of chromosomes.
As each cycle is performed at the same clinic, you allow their staff to have more insight into your individual medical history and, as a result, eventually prescribe a successful treatment protocol.
Critics have argued that programmes which offer ‘guarantees’ are falsely suggesting that a pregnancy can be guaranteed and question the ethics of using such terminology in medicine. It is also difficult to compare similar schemes as many have subtle differences and use different benchmarks to measure success. Some for instance, measure success (which triggers an end to the programme) at the time of fertilization, and others at the point of a live birth.
Finally, do your homework beforehand to compare the eligibility criteria used for specific money back guarantee programs as this might differ between providers.
Where can I access a IVF multi cycle program?
IVF multi cycle programmes are offered directly by fertility clinics or via a range of third party agencies that provide financial assistance to make your fertility journey a little easier. The scheme will ensure you can make repeat visits without any penalties.
IVF multi cycle programmes are offered throughout the world and in countries like the U.K., Spain, the Czech Republic, and Greece you will be able to identify many fertility clinics who provide the service. Programmes will also offer egg donation treatments.
Will I get money back if I am successful on my first IVF cycle?
This will depend on the particular IVF refund program. Generally, however, refunds are not given if the cycle is successful and you will not be able to recoup any cycles that you don’t use.
Will I qualify if I turn 40 during the treatment?
You will have to check the small print once again. Some IVF refund programs will only accept patients who are under 38. There are some that have an upper age limit of 40 and you would need to check with the provider if they would be willing to allow you to continue with treatment beyond your 40th birthday.
Is there a low cost IVF refund program?
The cost of an IVF refund program is based on one main consideration. It is determined by the amount that the provider charges per treatment – it follows therefore that the cheapest refund programmes you will find will be in those countries where IVF treatments are cheaper.
When you look at the cost of the refund program consider what percentage of refund is offered as this will be important if the treatment is unsuccessful.
IVF Refund Program: A good idea?
Whichever country you visit and whatever problem you may have experienced like recurrent miscarriage, implantation failure or issues involving your endometrium there will be IVF refund program that will offer you a solution to your fertility needs.
Each provider may offer something a little different so you will need to spend some time reading the small print in order to understand what is on offer.
The total costs of an IVF Refund program can range from €10,000 to €25,000. The price is driven by the type of treatment (donor or own eggs), the desired result (clinical pregnancy or live birth), and the number of IVF cycles and transfers covered. You also have to be prepared for additional costs if you’re interested in using donor sperm, PGT-A diagnostics or medications helping to prepare the uterus for receipt of the embryos. Moreover, the IVF Refund Program cost is affected by the same elements that dictate the price of a one-off IVF treatment, including the number of donor eggs received by the patient and procedures in an embryological laboratory (such as ICSI, developing blastocysts, etc.).
One should also remember that with all these programmes it is the reimbursement which is guaranteed in certain circumstances and not the outcome.
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