Does Health Insurance Cover the Cost of Freezing Your Eggs?
Someone may choose to delay pregnancy and freeze their eggs for a number of reasons, but health care costs for the procedure can be prohibitive. In a few cases, your state may require your insurance carrier to pay for this procedure, and if not, you may have other options. Read on to find out what egg freezing is, how much it costs, and how you might pay for it.
Why Freeze Your Eggs
Preserving eggs is something people may choose to do if they want to wait to get pregnant until they have furthered their career, if they haven’t found the right life partner yet, or if they want to postpone pregnancy for some other reason. As a person ages, the quality of their eggs declines, beginning approximately at age 32 and accelerating more rapidly after age 37. So, if a person chooses to postpone getting pregnant, freezing eggs before they lose quality could improve their chances of a successful pregnancy later.
You may also need to freeze your eggs if you’re having trouble ovulating. This can be caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance problem, as well as blocked fallopian tubes caused by pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, or a number of other medical conditions.
One common infertility treatment, if you have a condition that affects your ability to get pregnant, freezes a person's eggs to preserve them so they can get treatment that improves the chance of being able to become pregnant.
Women also may choose to freeze their eggs ahead of future cancer treatments.
The Process of Freezing Eggs
The technical term for egg freezing is “oocyte cryopreservation.” Experts who handle this medical procedure are called reproductive endocrinologists. Before you begin the procedure, you will undergo several screening tests, including ovarian screening to determine the quality of your eggs, and checks for infectious diseases.
After your screening procedures, you will be given synthetic hormones that will stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs. Your doctor will monitor your response to the medications. The doctor will schedule follow-up visits and perform a vaginal ultrasound to monitor the development of eggs and to see when you are ready to begin egg retrieval. The process can take 10 to 14 days.
You will be sedated during egg retrieval, and the doctor may remove as many as 15 eggs per cycle to increase the chances of fertilization and birth.
After removal, the unfertilized eggs are cooled to sub-zero temperatures so they will be preserved for future use. When ready to use your eggs, they will be thawed, fertilized with sperm during a lab procedure and implanted in your uterus or that of a surrogate carrier.
The Cost of Freezing Eggs
Egg freezing may be a good choice for people who choose to delay parenthood—but health care costs for the procedure can be high. In total, you could end up spending as much as $30,000 to $40,000 out of pocket for a couple of rounds of treatment and egg storage.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost?
There are 16 states that require insurance companies to cover or offer coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment. Of those states, 14 have laws that require insurance companies to cover infertility treatment and two states—California and Texas—have laws that require insurance companies to offer coverage for infertility treatment.
Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia have laws that require insurers to either cover or offer coverage for infertility treatment.
Outside of the 16 states listed above, there may be some insurers that will cover the procedure but they are not legally required to do so. Even if your insurance company does not cover the entire procedure, it may cover certain aspects of the cryopreservation process such as ultrasounds or bloodwork.
Legislation has been introduced in several states to mandate fertility preservation insurance coverage. In May 2018, the federal Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act (H.R. 5965) was introduced. This bill would require coverage for patients who want to undergo fertility preservation services such as egg freezing because of medically necessary procedures such as cancer treatments.
Even if insurance does cover the cost, there are certain criteria you must meet to qualify for coverage.
If in doubt whether your insurance will cover the cost of egg freezing, review your employee insurance plan or call your insurance company and ask them to explain your coverage to you.
Other Ways to Pay for Egg Freezing
If your insurance does not cover the cost of egg freezing, don’t give up hope. You can avoid going into debt to pay for fertility treatments. There are other funding options you can consider.
You can save for the procedure yourself by having an auto-deduction from your paycheck invested into an interest-drawing savings account. Some fertility clinics may also offer financing or payment options for egg freezing. You also can check into paying for IVF treatments with loans or grants, or even crowdsourcing.
A few large companies, including Google and reportedly Facebook, are offering to cover the cost of egg freezing as an added employee benefit. If this trend continues, cryopreservation could become a more common procedure in the future.