IVF success tied to insurance coverage

According to an article from Reuters, women who have insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be more likely to have a baby than women who have to pay entirely out-of-pocket for fertility treatments.

In any given attempt at IVF, insurance status didn’t influence whether women had a baby, the study found. But when the first cycle of IVF failed women were more likely to try again if their insurance covered at least some of the costs. That makes sense.

One cycle of IVF can cost around $12,000, with up to another $5,000 for extra medicines women may need, said lead study author Dr. Emily Jungheim of Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine in Missouri.

“Women without coverage for IVF were significantly less likely to try another IVF cycle, likely because the cost was too high,” Jungheim said by email. “This wasn’t a factor for women with coverage, and as a result they were more likely to have a baby.”

Each year, approximately 1.6 percent of all U.S. babies are conceived using assisted reproductive technology, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers examined data on 1,572 women seen at Washington University Physicians’ Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Center from 2001 to 2010. The center draws patients from Illinois, a state that requires insurers to cover up to four cycles of IVF, and Missouri, which does not mandate IVF coverage.

Overall, 875 women (56 percent) had IVF coverage; 40 percent had state-mandated benefits and 60 percent had benefits without a state requirement. The remaining women lacked coverage and paid for fertility treatments out-of-pocket. After the first cycle of IVF, 39 percent of women with insurance coverage and 38 percent of women without fertility benefits had a baby, a difference that wasn’t statistically meaningful, researchers report in JAMA. With insurance, 70 percent of women who didn’t succeed the first time tried again, compared with 52 percent of women without fertility benefits.

After up to four IVF cycles, the cumulative odds of delivering a baby were better with insurance: 57 percent compared with 51 percent without IVF coverage.

But the ability to afford more than one cycle is probably not the only reason for the difference. Since stress plays a role in success, the fact that it was less financially stressful could also be playing a role.

At Reproductive Partners we have financial plans to help reduce stress and allow multiple cycles such as Attain which offers multi-cycle discounts and in some cases refunds. I have had many patients say that Attain took the financial stress out of the equation.

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