Fertility testing is not usually the aspect of fertility treatment that gets couples into large amounts of debt - high-cost fertility treatments such as IVF or IUI are much more likely to do damage to your bank account. However, a couple whose medical insurance doesn't cover fertility testing, or a couple who doesn't have medical insurance at all, may indeed get into debt if they decide to take anything but the cheapest and most simple of fertility tests.
Borrowing For Fertility
There are a number of ways to borrow money to pay for fertility testing and treatment. Many couples avail themselves of these loans as testing and treatment progresses. Sometimes, what starts off as one test quickly spirals into more and more if the cause of infertility is hard to find, or if it is a particularly complex problem. For many couples, the ultimate goal of becoming parents takes precedence over all other concerns, and sometimes they don't plan for the long term.
Some of the ways in which couples get into debt or spend more than intended, are as follows:
- Using a credit card as if it were a medical insurance policy, and simply spending more and more as time goes on.
- Spending their savings as doctors recommend more tests to get to the root cause of the infertility (if the doctor says it's necessary, it must be, right?).
- Remortgaging their homes or borrowing money against their property to cover high-cost tests and treatment.
- Borrowing money from friends and family, and thereby creating not only the need for large future repayments, but also tensions in their relationships with the people close to them.
- Taking up shared risk plans - these are payment schemes offered by fertility clinics. Basically, you pay in advance (perhaps after borrowing from the bank or on your credit card) for, let's say, 4 IVF cycles. If you don't conceive after 4 cycles, you get a refund. If you conceive on the 1st cycle, you don't get anything. You've spent money on 3 cycles you didn't need and paid over the odds. The terms of each plan vary according to the clinic you use, so it's important to read the terms and conditions carefully.
It's important to note that all the borrowing methods mentioned above are perfectly safe if used in a responsible way, with long-term vision.
Avoiding Testing Debt
If a doctor tells you that you have a fertility problem, it's natural that you should want to get to the bottom of it, and find out exactly what's wrong. This may not always be necessary, however. Thanks to IVF and IUI technology, in some cases, but not all, unexplained infertility can be rectified and a pregnancy conceived, even though you may never find out exactly what caused your difficulties. You should raise this issue with your fertility doctor before endless testing or surgical procedures are pursued. In his professional opinion, are invasive tests really the best option in your case?
Sometimes fertility treatments just don't work. Couples may have to consider alternative, potentially equally expensive options such as adoption and surrogacy. It's worth keeping these costs in mind from the very beginning. It would be a shame to spend everything you have on fertility tests and treatment, and then be unable to finance an adoption, if necessary, at the end of it all.
Before you embark on fertility testing, sit down with your partner and define a budget. Just how much are you prepared to spend? If you borrow money, how much can you afford to make in repayments each month?