Only 15 states in the U.S. require insurers to offer at least some coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment, and with the average cost of a single fertility treatment cycle over $10,000, having children this way can seem financially out of reach. To make their dreams a reality, many couples consider taking out a loan to cover these costs. However, this isn’t necessarily the best option to pay for treatment. We investigate why below, when it does make sense to take out a loan and what other financing options you should consider.
Should You Get an IVF Loan?
In the event that you’re not fully covered under your medical insurance, getting a loan to cover your fertility treatment can seem like a good option. However, we recommend potential borrowers weigh the costs associated with getting a loan, and consider alternative options in instead of or in addition to a loan. Some of these loans can carry interest rates up to 36%. You'll also need to ask yourself if you'll be able to afford a monthly payment as your everyday expenses increase with pregnancy, childbirth and a newborn.
Ideally, you should aim to pay for at least some of your treatment with your own savings (we suggest leveraging tax-advantaged accounts such as HSAs or FSAs first). But with fertility treatment costing up to $20,000 or more, it may be hard to foot the entire bill. Ryan Miyamoto, CFP and founder of Derive Wealth, a California-based wealth management firm, suggests individuals consider a home equity loan or line of credit, and if that’s not available, a personal loan. He suggests individuals try to find a loan with low rates -- ideally under 10% -- for one to three years.
We also advise individuals to look for treatment or prescriptions discounts to help offset the cost of treatment. Medical providers may provide discounts to patients who pay upfront in cash, and some pharmaceutical companies offer discounts on their fertility drugs.
Where to Get IVF Loans
In many cases, you may be able to apply directly through your healthcare provider for financing. If that’s not the case, you can also turn to online lenders and banks for a traditional personal loan.
At Your Medical Provider’s Office
Quite a few finance companies work directly with medical providers to offer in-house lending solutions for their patients, letting you apply directly at your doctor's office for financing. Some of these companies provide loans for a variety of healthcare needs, whereas others are solely focused on fertility treatment. These loans will generally act in the same way as a personal loan -- you will make fixed monthly payments over the course of several years. There may be prepayment penalties associated with the loan, so make sure to check with your provider.
Lenders that offer these programs include CapexMD, Lending Club and Prosper Healthcare. Your medical provider should be able to tell you which, if any, financing companies they work with, but you can also look up treatment providers on each company’s website. In addition, RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, has a complete list of companies that offer financing on its website.
Online Fertility and Personal Loans
If your healthcare provider doesn’t work with a financing company, you can apply directly for a loan online. While you can find fertility loans online, we also recommend borrowers consider plain-vanilla personal loans. In general, you should be able to use a personal loan to pay for medical procedures, and if you have excellent credit, you can likely qualify for a single-digit interest rate. Fertility loans function in almost the same way as a personal loan, with the caveat that they can only be used to pay for your treatment. Most personal and fertility loan providers will let you check your rate online without affecting your credit score, so it’s good idea to shop around to find the best rate.
Providers that offer online fertility loans include Med Loan Finance, MedicalFinancing.com and United Medical Credit. For online personal loans, see our list of recommendations.
Your Bank or Credit Union
Your bank or credit union likely makes personal loans, and you can typically get a rate discount for paying back the loan through a qualifying checking or savings account. Some banks also offer secured personal loans, which use a savings, money market or CD account as collateral, and come with very low interest rates, large loan amounts and long terms. Banks and credit unions may have more restrictions on how you use the funds from the loan, so be sure to speak with them to see if fertility treatment is eligible. Most major banks and credit unions have online applications, which can help speed up the process. One downside is that you typically can’t check your rate, so you’ll need to be okay undergoing a hard credit check when you apply for the loan.
Other Options to Finance Your Fertility Treatment
Getting a loan to pay for your fertility treatment can make sense in some cases, but we also recommend borrowers consider alternative options, including those listed below:
- Work out a payment plan with your provider
- Draw from an HSA or FSA
- Take out a home equity loan or line of credit
- Apply for fertility financial assistance
- Use a 0% intro APR credit card
Payment plan with medical provider: Instead of taking out a loan to pay for your treatment, you may be able to work out a payment plan directly with your medical provider. Not only will you save on interest costs, but you’ll also have more recourse if there are clerical or billing errors for your treatment (which, unfortunately, are all too common). You may also be able to get a discount for paying in cash. Check with your healthcare provider to see what payment plan options are available.
HSA/FSAs: Using a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) can be another great option for paying for fertility treatment. Both accounts have tax advantages, and in some cases, employers may provide a match on your contributions (similar to how 401(k) matching works). While HSAs are only available to individuals in high-deductible health plans, FSAs are available to anyone. You can open these accounts individually or through your employer, if that’s offered.
Home equity line of credit or loan: If you’ve built up decent equity in your home, consider taking out a home equity loan or line of credit to pay for treatment. Because these loans are secured by your home, you can usually get a low interest rate. One thing to look out for is fees -- some HELOCs come with high upfront fees that make them much more expensive than they seem.
Grants, scholarships and financial assistance: There are a number of nonprofit organizations that provide grants and scholarships to women and couples undergoing fertility treatment. RESOLVE maintains a list of active scholarships and grants, so it’s worth checking their website to see programs you may be eligible for. Surprisingly, a number of pharmaceutical companies offer discounts to patients who are prescribed their fertility drugs. Patients can receive up to 75% off their prescriptions at participating pharmacies.
Credit cards: Paying for IVF with a credit card is risky, so we only recommend it as a last resort. If you choose this option, look for a credit card with a 0% introductory APR for at least 12 months and make every effort to pay down the balance before the introductory period is up. Depending on how much your treatment will cost, you may need to have excellent credit to qualify for a large enough credit line.