One of the first questions many people ask themselves when considering IVF treatment is, what is the cost of IVF? In the early days of IVF, treatment yield…
One of the first questions many people ask themselves when considering IVF treatment is, what is the cost of IVF? In the early days of IVF, treatment yielded low IVF success rates, invasive procedures, and high medication dosages. As a result, IVF costs were much higher for what was a lengthy and time intensive procedure.
These days, IVF success rates have improved beyond the rate of natural conception, providing couples with a better chance than ever before of fulfilling their dream of having a family. Treatment protocols have reduced the length of an IVF treatment cycle, new techniques have minimised the invasiveness of the procedures, and improvements in the drug regimes has reduced the levels of hormones used in IVF treatment. IVF treatment is also much more common now with one in six Australian couples requiring assistance to conceive.
In Australia, we are fortunate to have the support of the Federal Government through Medicare, which provide a capped rebate for IVF treatment once an annual threshold has been reached. Through Medicare, patients are able to claim back a significant proportion of their IVF costs, as soon as treatment is complete, making Australia one of the most affordable countries to undertake IVF treatment.
Most IVF treatment in Australia is offered by private clinics and therefore IVF costs vary from clinic to clinic. The average cost for IVF is between $6,000 to $8,000. Once treatment is complete and patients have claimed their Medicare rebates, they can expect to be out of pocket around $2,000 to $3,000 depending on other factors including the patient’s level of private health insurance.
IVF treatment involves stimulating the development of ovarian follicles (think of a small sac that holds the eggs) within a woman’s ovaries using a synthetic hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone. This allows us to recruit some of those follicles that wouldn’t normally grow to maturity. Through this process, on average around 9 to 10 mature eggs can be collected and are then placed with the sperm in a laboratory. In IVF, fertilisation takes place without further intervention. After the resulting embryos have developed for 2 – 5 days in the laboratory, an embryo is transferred back to the woman’s uterus and a pregnancy test is undertaken two weeks later.
At most IVF clinics in Australia, the majority of appointments, procedures and medications are included in the overall IVF treatment cost, including specialist/nursing consultations, ultrasound scans, blood tests, standard laboratory scientific techniques, ongoing supportive counselling (while on treatment), embryo transfer procedure, pregnancy test and early pregnancy care support.
Expenses that are not usually included in the standard IVF costs include the initial fertility specialist consultation and initial investigational tests such as blood and semen analysis testing, which are undertaken prior to IVF treatment being recommended as the most appropriate form of treatment for the individual patient. Other expenses outside of the standard IVF costs include the day hospital bed and anaesthetist fee for the egg collection procedure and the additional medications not covered by Medicare. Some clinics also charge additional fees for services such as counselling.
Some patients will require additional specialised scientific techniques such as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), and these incur additional charges. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is a specialised method of testing embryos for specific genetic and chromosomal abnormalities, enabling selection of unaffected embryos prior to prior to implantation and before pregnancy occurs. A recent IVF breakthrough is also now available in Australia and is known as Advanced Embryo Selection – this is currently one of the most advanced methods of PGD. Advanced Embryo Selection allows all chromosomes in a developing embryo to be screened, enabling selection of the strongest embryo with the greatest likelihood of pregnancy success. The cost of PGD IVF techniques such as Advanced Embryo Selection varies, and is generally an additional expense on top of standard IVF ICSI treatment costs. The Advanced Embryo Selection technique is suitable for those who are 38 years and over, or have a history of miscarriage, or have hereditary chromosomal conditions, or have experienced unsuccessful IVF.