The cost of fertility medications can force many couples to question whether they can continue infertility treatment. But there are ways to save, and sometimes even to get fertility drugs for free.
The first time you’re handed the bill for your fertility medications, you might shake your head and wonder if that little pill or vial contains pure liquid gold. Clomiphene, one of the most common fertility drugs, can cost an eye-opening $150 a cycle, but that’s a relative bargain compared with gonadotropins: the injectible IVF (in vitro fertilization) drugs cost around $50 per dose, and since an average IVF cycle might require 40 doses, the cost can easily exceed $2,000 for a single try. And that’s on top of the expense of the actual procedure. It’s enough to make many couples opt out of fertility treatment or plunge into the murky black market for drugs with questionable origins. But keep in mind that there are more legitimate ways to navigate the system and get a better price on your fertility meds—or sometimes even get them for free. Here’s how:
Double-Check Your Insurance Coverage to See if it Covers Fertility Drugs
Yes, it’s true that many insurance policies do not cover fertility medications (and if they do, they may not cover fertility procedures). But before you make any assumptions, read the fine print on your policy, and call to get clarification. “Many insurance companies are not forthcoming with what they cover,” says Tommaso Falcone, M.D., professor and chair of the department of ob/gyn at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who points out that as long as fertility medications are not explicitly excluded in the policy, they might be covered. Since insurance policies can be as confusing as ancient Greek texts, you may want to enlist someone with more experience to help you figure it all out. Karen Moore, R.N., director of medical information at Resolve: The National Infertility Association, suggests you ask the financial consultant at your clinic to make the call for you. You can also call Serono’s Fertility Lifelines (866-LETS-TRY). An advisor will take your information and get a pre-screening of whatever pharmaceutical benefits you are entitled to.
Shop At Specialty Fertility Pharmacies
Though you may be tempted to stop at the nearest drugstore the minute your doctor hands you your prescription, that move can cost you hundreds of dollars. While all pharmacies can fill prescriptions for fertility drugs, there are advantages to shopping at a specialty pharmacy. “Don’t buy your fertility drugs at the same corner pharmacy where you buy medicine for your strep throat,” says Pamela Madsen, ex-executive director of the American Fertility Association (AFA). “Specialty pharmacies have a better relationship with the pharmaceutical companies and they compete with each other, so their prices are lower.” To find a fertility pharmacy near you, call the AFA at 888-917-3777. If there isn’t one in your town, simply fax your prescription; most fertility pharmacies in the country will overnight your meds at no extra cost.