Women often wonder — if they decide to freeze their eggs, will insurance help pay for this? The short answer is: it depends. However, before we look into whether insurance covers egg freezing — scientifically known as oocyte cryopreservation — let’s look at why women choose to and what it is.
Why Freeze Your Eggs?
Today’s women often face the choice of focusing on their career or having a family. Society has yet to accept these two activities as compatible without one or the other “losing out”. More women are choosing to focus on their careers and waiting to have children.
A recent study1 shows that more women are freezing eggs to avoid choosing the wrong partner and instead are freezing their eggs to provide the time to choose wisely. This same study showed women felt more confident in their ability to have children later in life.
To preserve the option for having children later on, when conception may not be as easy, some women are opting for egg freezing in their 20s and early 30s. This gives them the option, with some risks, of starting a family in their late 30s and even into their early 40s.
How Does it Work?
Successfully introduced in 1986 by Christopher Chen,2 an Australian biologist, who was the first to perform a successful live birth from egg freezing, the process has only recently been removed from the “experimental” procedure category. The process consists of extracting, then freezing a woman’s eggs and storing them until she is ready to conceive.
It is, of course, much more complicated than that, and there are no guarantees that this process will result in a live birth. However, as technology continues to improve, the chances of success increase making this a more viable option.
The Mayo Clinic describes the process as follows:3
“Eggs harvested from your ovaries are frozen unfertilized and stored for later use. A frozen egg can be thawed, combined with sperm in a lab and implanted in your uterus (in vitro fertilization).”
How Much Does it Cost?
According to Fertility IQ,4 costs can be as much as $30,000 to $40,000 for treatment and storage. This consists of retrieval, medications, and storage costs and assumes 2 cycles of treatment — the average is 2.1 cycles. Prices increase as women age; (older women will pay more for more cycles and typically harvest few eggs).
Costs can also vary by region, although the national average is around $15,991 for one cycle. Many women, to increase their odds of success, will choose to have 2 cycles of eggs retrieved and frozen.
Interestingly, according to Extend Fertility, a clinic focused on educating and counseling women on fertility, by freezing eggs at a younger age the total cost of live birth can be reduced by over $15,000 compared to traditional fertility treatments at older ages.
Does health insurance cover the costs?
In 16 states, there are laws requiring insurance companies to cover or offer coverage for fertility treatment. Those states are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia. If you live in one of these states, insurance could help pay for coverage; however, you will still have deductibles and out of pocket costs, depending on your plan.
If you don’t live in one of these states, your insurance could still pay for some costs of care, such as bloodwork or ultrasounds. It is wise to review the details of your health insurance policy, so you know what to expect.
There are also some companies5, several in the technology industry, that cover the costs of fertility treatments and egg freezing. These benefits are offered as a means of attracting and maintaining top female talent.
Are there other ways to pay?
As the popularity of this procedure grows, fertility clinics are working hard to bring down costs or help find ways to pay for services. However, the most common payment method, if insurance does not pay, is for individuals to pay out of their own pockets. Financing can be an option for some, also.
In the end, more and more women may choose to consider egg freezing as an option for enjoying more of life and pursuing a career in their 20s and 30s before having children. They will take more time choosing a partner instead of listening to their “biological alarm clock” as the baby-urge is often called. And with the recent conclusion that costs may be lowered by freezing eggs at a younger age, more women may seek to use this procedure to ensure children in their future.
If health insurance isn’t going to pay, pursuing a career makes paying for the option to freeze eggs more viable, as well. It can increase the success of starting a family late in their 30s or even early 40s. Having a successful partner to help pay the costs of waiting is also more attractive.
Whatever a woman decides, it’s good to know there are options — that some states are on their side and even some employers.