The XX Factor

Is It Cost-Effective for Insurers To Cover IVF?

Now with health reform on everyone’s mind, a few specialists are claiming that reimbursement for fertility treatments-even paying for pricey in vitro fertilization-is cost-effective. The thinking is that when couples with fertility problems do not have to worry about the cost, they will try to get pregnant the healthier way-with fewer embryos per try. That may mean more bouts of IVF, but it would also mean a reduced risk of having triplets, quadruplets, and even more babies at once. So-called high-order multiples are likely to be born early, needing costly care in the neonatal intensive care unit and often lifetime care as well. So a few tries of IVF-at about $10,000 per month-is cheaper than hundreds of thousands of dollars to care for each premature baby. One doctor estimated that it costs about $200,000 door-to-door for one 26-week-old. And that’s just considering the initial hospital fees, not the possibility of long-term care. And what about the emotional impact on parents from the either death of a premature child or a child with a chronic illness?