Can You Af­ford To Have A Baby?

ForbesWeekly - - NEWS - BY ZINA KUMOK, CON­TRIB­U­TOR

The tiny shoes, the adorable one­sies, the pas­tel-colored nurs­ery– these are the images that usu­ally come to mind when you get preg­nant.

But what if your road to preg­nancy is filled with in­fer­til­ity treat­ments, adoption forms and other is­sues? Sud­denly the only images that come to mind are mas­sive bills and com­pli­cated loan forms.

While a baby can be life’s great­est gift, it can also come with a hefty price tag. How big of a price tag?

That’s how it’s been for Kate Hen­der­son, cur­rently 24 weeks preg­nant with her sec­ond child. While her in­sur­ance pol­icy cov­ered all but $7,000 of the IVF costs for her first child, the pol­icy she has now doesn’t cover in­fer­til­ity treat­ments.

Un­for­tu­nately, Hen­der­son and her hus­band didn’t re­al­ize this un­til they’d al­ready started the process of hav­ing their sec­ond child. To pay for the process, they took out $20,000 in loans—$15,000 from a per­sonal loan at 10% in­ter­est and the rest on a credit card.

Her story isn’t unique. Cou­ples un­able to have a baby the old-fash­ioned way face this choice ev­ery day. So if you want to get preg­nant, how much does it cost?

IVF

One round of IVF costs around $11,500 per ses­sion, and it usu­ally takes around three ses­sions for women un­der 35 to get preg­nant, and be­tween three and six for women over 35. That means cou­ples are pay­ing about $30,000 or more if they use IVF to con­ceive.

Some in­sur­ance plans cover IVF, but this is something you need to ver­ify be­fore­hand or, like Hen­der­son, you might end up with an ex­pen­sive sur­prise.

Adoption

Many peo­ple ad­vo­cate for adoption in­stead of pur­su­ing costly fer­til­ity treat­ments. What these peo­ple fail to re­al­ize is that adoption can be as ex­pen­sive as a few rounds of IVF.

Adopt­ing from the foster sys­tem may be rel­a­tively af­ford­able (less than $1,000), but pri­vate adoption in the U.S. can cost up to $30,000, ac­cord­ing to the In­de­pen­dent Adoption Cen­ter.

In­ter­na­tional adop­tions are of­ten less ex­pen­sive, rang­ing from $11,000 to $23,000 depend­ing on from where you adopt.

Sur­ro­gacy

There are two types of sur­ro­gacy: tra­di­tional and ges­ta­tional. Tra­di­tional sur­ro­gacy in­volves us­ing the sperm from one of the par­ents and the egg of the sur­ro­gate. Ges­ta­tional sur­ro­gacy uses the egg from the mother and sperm from the fa­ther; the sur­ro­gate sim­ply car­ries the baby to term.

Sur­ro­gacy is one of the most ex­pen­sive op­tions for cou­ples look­ing to have a child. The av­er­age costs range be­tween $80,000 and $120,000, mak­ing the process a last re­sort for many in­fer­tile cou­ples.

Giv­ing birth

The ac­tual act of giv­ing birth can cost, on av­er­age, $9,600 for a vagi­nal birth and $15,800 for a C-sec­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, ma­ter­nal care and giv­ing birth may not be cov­ered if you have an in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance plan that was grand­fa­thered in. You may also find your­self pay­ing for these costs per­son­ally if you have a high-de­ductible pol­icy.

Freez­ing eggs

Egg freez­ing has be­come more of a main­stream op­tion for sin­gle women hop­ing to plan ahead for preg­nancy. Un­for­tu­nately, the cost re­mains high.

Ac­cord­ing to the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Fer­til­ity cen­ter, re­triev­ing the eggs ini­tially costs about $10,000 with an ad­di­tional $500 in an­nual stor­age costs. Thaw­ing the eggs costs an­other $5,000.

How peo­ple can plan ahead

If you’re strug­gling with in­fer­til­ity, you have at least one ad­van­tage in the process: You can plan ahead for preg­nancy. You can set aside money tax-free that you can use for your treat­ments if you have an in­sur­ance plan that comes with a Health Savings Plan or Flex Spend­ing Plan.

An HSA has no ex­pi­ra­tion date, so if you don’t end up us­ing all the money for in­fer­til­ity treat­ments, you can use it for other med­i­cal, den­tal or vi­sion ex­penses. An FSA doesn’t al­low you to roll money over to the next year, so you have to do the math to make sure you don’t lose money or pay too much out of pocket to taxes.

You can set up an HSA or FSA through your in­sur­ance plan. Talk to your HR depart­ment about set­ting one up and set­ting up au­to­matic trans­fers from your pay­check.

Be­fore you start the treat­ments, you should also see what kind of in­sur­ance plan you have, what they cover and what your other op­tions are. It may be worth­while to change your in­sur­ance pol­icy be­fore try­ing to get preg­nant. Un­less you have a spe­cial cir­cum­stance, you’ll have to wait un­til open en­roll­ment in the fall to change your pol­icy.

Some in­fer­til­ity doc­tors may also al­low you to pay in in­stall­ments. They may even be will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate if you ask. Women like Hen­der­son who don’t have the cash for fer­til­ity treat­ments may also be able to take out a per­sonal loan from a bank or put the treat­ments on a credit card.

But no mat­ter how much you plan ahead, Hen­der­son said, “You’ll never re­ally be ready.”

“The cost of in­fer­til­ity is scary,” she said. “You have to know that this is what you want and con­fi­dently make the life­style changes nec­es­sary to make it hap­pen.”

JAMIE GRILL/GETTY IMAGES

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