In vitro fertilisation (IVF), the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology is also the most expensive one. The 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.
Here is where IVF Refund Programs (or IVF Guarantee Programs) come into play. This more and more popular financial solution may help patients save time and money throughout their fertility journey.
What are IVF Refund or IVF Guarantee Programs?
IVF Refund (or IVF Guarantee ) Programs offer patients a package of IVF services at a prepaid price. They give 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.
What is guaranteed?
IVF Refund programs provide patients with several IVF cycles for a fixed fee. The treatment is conducted until the desired result, meaning either clinical pregnancy or live birth. It may also continue until all of the program’s cycles are completed. If the IVF program ends successfully, the patient will not receive any money back. But in case the desired result isn’t achieved, the programs guarantee a partial or a full refund.
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.
What are the differences?
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.
What about the costs?
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.).
Who pays for it?
IVF Refund programs are often offered by external companies that work directly with IVF clinics. The external company offers to finance for IVF costs, while the clinic provides the treatment. Once you make your payment to the external company, no further payments need to be made at the clinic itself.
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).
What are the pros and cons
First of all, thanks to the programs with a money-back guarantee, the whole financial planning of your treatment is easier. It is simpler to estimate the total cost of the program and having done so, you can focus on your treatment instead of your finances. If you do end up requiring more than one cycle, you can actually save money and spend less than while doing the same number of cycles outside of such a program. On the other hand, when your IVF treatment is unsuccessful and you get a full or partial refund, you can use it during further treatments. Besides, thanks to every cycle 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.
Of course, there are disadvantages as well. The main one is probably a high entry cost – because of that the IVF Refund programs will not be popular among patients on a tight budget. Additionally, if you succeed the first time around, you end up paying considerably more money with no possibility of a refund. And last but not least, it is good to remember that not every patient qualifies for an IVF Refund program.
Who qualifies for it?
The qualifications criteria for an IVF Refund program vary considerably from clinic to clinic. These 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.
Where to start?
As IVF journey comes with many challenges, it is good to have an alternative that may reduce patients’ financial risk and, as a consequence, make the whole treatment more predictable.
If you are interested in signing up for an IVF Refund program and want to know if it’s really an option for you, fill out the form. Our consultants will contact you and chat things through with you.