IVF Paper Trail (and the longest post ever)

The walk down the road of IVF starts with a whole heck of a lotta paperwork and even more legwork. I wanted to share some info on what you might expect, some research to save you time, and some costs. Cuz it’s time to get transparent about this topic. It’s going to be a data dump post, but I really hope it helps someone out there in IVF land. I’m big into order so let’s start at the beginning.

My initial IVF consult took three hours. I left feeling like I had just taken the SATs. But, it was necessary and glad it was as thorough as it was. I have to say, I am very excited to be going through this process with our IVF nurse. She’s the bomb, she understands that I need a lot of info, and I left having no questions (which is rare). I might not need to compulsively google, that’s a new one! 

She then went over the package options and legal mumbo jumbo. (Cue the ream of paperwork)

DIFFERENT TYPES OF IVF PACKAGES:

First, we went over the office-offered IVF services and packages. I could go with only one of their packages (the package offered one fresh transfer for a hair under $12,000 – no meds). I did not qualify for the multiple cycle package offered by my office because my BMI was too high. Gasp! Zing! Basically, I had too much junk in the trunk. Being infertile and looking down the barrel of IVF costs is crappy as it is, but then to call me fat on top of it…not cool, universe! Moving on… 

She then gave me ARC and WINFertility’s contact info. I reached out to both and the items the packages covered during IVF were essentially the same (number of office visits, egg retrieval, transfer, anesthesia, assisted hatching). Here’s where they differ: 

WINFERTILITY

  • WIN includes the meds with the cycle price so you can include it all into one payment and their med rates are pretty good comparatively speaking 
  • Win does not offer multi-cycle packages (if you want a plan B or if you need to finance everything at once, WIN might not be the best option) 
  • Their customer service ROCKED. Empathy, sincerity, follow through. I felt like I was in super great hands. 

ARC

  • Multi-cycle options with fresh and frozen fees included (one fresh one frozen, two fresh, two frozen…you get the idea) 
  • No cost for the frozen embryo transfer (FET) if the fresh cycle does not work 
  • Financing plan offered through them – you can finance your meds, too 
  • Once you have a live birth, the contract is fulfilled, regardless if you have more cycles left 
  • Meds not included 
  • They offer a money-back guarantee type program if you qualify (I did not because of my prior miscarriage…zing again!) 
  • Responsive and patient support team. 

In the end, after reviewing all options, I quickly ruled out my office package option. Aside from the fact that I was still a little miffed that they had fat girl exclusion clauses, it wasnt a good deal stacked up to WIN and ARC. Now here’s where I beg you to do your research. MEDS! In order to choose the right package, I had to factor in the cost of meds to really compare apples to apples. I called SEVEN different fertility pharmacies around the nation and the prices varied wildly. More on that, later. 

Once I had my med costs, I added up all the services and divided by the number of cycles to get my base rate per cycle. I hate math so this double sucked. For example: With WIN, I had the price for the cycle and meds but also needed to account for a possible FET if the fresh cycle didnt work and I had extra embryos. The office rate was around $4,500 for the FET. This, however was included with ARC. 

In the end, I went with ARC. I wanted a package with multiple cycles so I had plan B if the first one didn’t work. Sure, we took the risk of over-paying for a package if our first IVF cycle was successful (and I pray to God that this is the case!), but ultimately my goal is to have a baby so I quickly dismissed that as an issue. When I shopped around for meds, I was surprised at how much the price varied and with some leg work and about 1/2 a day of calling pharmacies, I was able to save over $2k by calling around. So despite the fact that WIN included meds, the rate I found worked out to be cheaper. Ultimately, you need to determine what cycle type you are comfortable with, what contingency plan you want (or dont want), med costs, and financing needs. 

We had to finance ours all at once. Much to my chagrin, we do not have $22,000 hanging around collecting dust in my bank account. If we had the financial freedom to pay cash, WIN might be a better choice since we could buy cycles as needed. Again, it’s all a matter of what works best for you and your unique situation. ARC worked for me, but no one infertility journey is the same. WHEW! This is getting long, and boring. Please stay with me…I’m almost done data dumping.

Price Shock and Awe: IVF MEDS

Depending on what IVF meds you’re prescribed, the lowest priced pharmacy will absolutely vary. I’ve learned that some pharmacies have relationships with Follistim, others with Gonal-F. I got my Rx list from my doctor and got to calling. 

Here are a few places to check out and see what offers you the best rate. Most ship nationally: 

  • Prosperity Specialty Pharmacy
  • South Miami Fertility 
  • Village Pharmacy 
  • Freedom Fertility (this was the highest rate for me and my Rx at over $6,000)
  • Walgreens Specialty Fertility ($3,950)

We went with Walgreens because they were the second cheapest behind Village (by a nominal $55) and they had a location literally 15 mins from my house. This was good for two reasons: I can pick it up and not stress about delivery. And, I dont need to pick everything up all at once. Why is this important, you ask? Well, during your cycle you might have your meds cut back depending on how you respond. So, there’s no point in plunking down $4 grand on meds if you end up only using $3 grand. If I did need more, I can just call it in and pick it up the next day. If Walgreens is not on the cheaper end of the spectrum for you, you will likely need to order everything at once if the pharmacy isn’t local.

After a month of paperwork, contracts, bank loans, and more we ended up with a 2 fresh, 2 frozen package from ARC and getting meds at Walgreens Fertility. 

Hope this long, dull, laborious post was helpful to anyone trying to sort through the IVF madness. Good luck to you on your journey. 

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