How to Financially Prepare to Freeze Your Eggs
Many folks who want to have kids one day choose to freeze their eggs first—about 20% of women who walk into fertility clinics are there to have their eggs frozen, according to world-renowned reproductive and endocrinology specialist, Dr. Zaher Merhi. The founder of New York-based Rejuvenating Fertility Centers ays freezing your eggs gives you a chance to preserve your fertility: "Even when you're menopausal, you can still get pregnant," she explains.
Another reason people choose to freeze their eggs is to have kids at a time when they truly feel ready, instead of going by social timelines. Entrepreneur Vix Reitano chose to freeze her eggs in her late 20s so she could focus on growing her business. "I have wanted children since I was a child myself, and often thought that if I was still single at 30, I would do it on my own," Reitano, founder of advertising and content production company Agency 6B, tells Parents. "As 30 was on the horizon, I decided that I didn't want that to be my story. And now, on the cusp of my 33rd birthday, it is still NOT my story and I am thrilled I froze my eggs. It gave me a break...and it gave me the ability to think about the man I want to be my partner and how to create a life I truly love."
Freezing your eggs doesn't mean you can't conceive naturally and it doesn't guarantee a successful future pregnancy either. But it does increase your chances if you can't conceive naturally. "If you do have difficulty conceiving, you will have maximized your chances of a future fertility treatment leading to a baby," former andrology and embryology lab scientist Claire O'Neill tells Parents.
Plus, freezing your eggs early can save you a lot of money down the line. A 2018 study of about 9,000 people who had their embryos genetically tested found that folks who were 35 or younger at the time of their egg retrieval had a much higher percentage of viable embryos—72 percent, compared to 46 percent of viable embryos for women who were 38 to 40 years old when their eggs were retrieved.
Since the average cost of one cycle of IVF is about $12,000, if you wait until you're older to retrieve your eggs instead of using the eggs you froze when you were younger, you might have to go through multiple cycles of IVF to get good quality eggs. The average cost of IVF using frozen eggs is only $3,000 to $5000. "If you run the numbers of the cost of egg freezing against having to do an egg retrieval cycle when you're older, you'll find that you're likely to save money and get pregnant faster by paying for an egg-freezing cycle now," says O'Neill, who co-founded FertilitySpace, a platform that helps people find fertility providers.
That's not to say freezing your eggs isn't an investment—the average cost of freezing your eggs can range from $15,000 to $20,000 (including treatment, medications, and storage) per cycle according to FertilityIQ. On average, women choose to undergo two cycles, and the annual cost to store your eggs can be between $600 to $1,000 depending on the facility. O'Neill suggests moving your eggs to a long-term facility if you know you won't use them for a while, as these have lower annual fees and might even give you a discount if you pay for multiple years at once.
If you have consulted medical professionals, researched clinics, and decide that egg freezing is for you, here are tips on how you can prepare financially to make this investment.
Check with your insurance plan.
Talk to your insurance provider to see if they cover egg freezing. Coverage for fertility treatment has a lot to do with location—so far only 19 states require private insurance companies to cover fertility treatments in some form. Peter Nieves, Chief Commercial Officer at WINFertility, a company that helps employers and insurance providers with fertility management benefits, recommends checking with your insurance plan to see if you are eligible to have egg freezing covered based on your current health; many health plans cover egg freezing if it is medically necessary, but few cover it if it's elective.
"Always check with your insurance company to see if they have coverage for IVF-related procedures and if that includes egg freezing, even if you think they don't," says Ashleigh Marie Brown, founder of CLAIRE Fertility , a wellness platform for women navigating reproductive challenges.
If you are married or in a relationship, O'Neill recommends you check to see if your partner's insurance plan covers egg freezing. If you're eligible to be claimed as a spouse or domestic partner on their insurance, that's another way you can have the procedure covered.
Talk to your employer about fertility benefits.
Check to see if your company is offering any fertility benefits. "Right now, only 30 companies in the Fortune 500 cover egg freezing (Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.), but fertility help is one of the most common perks that is being added by employers," says Eryn Schultz, founder of financial education site Her Personal Finance. Having your company cover the cost of egg freezing can make it a lot more affordable—Schultz says some insurance plans cover 90% of the costs or a flat fee.
If your health plan allows you to pay for egg freezing through your HSA or FSA accounts, loading them up with pre-tax dollars can be great way to help cover the cost if you don't have coverage through your insurance.
Open a separate savings account for egg freezing.
If egg freezing is a priority for you, work towards it like you would any other financial goal. Find the best fertility clinics near you, see what their costs are in advance, and start saving. Opening a separate account for egg freezing can also help you keep better track of your savings. "If you can afford it, set up a monthly transfer to a high-yield savings account to help you save for this goal," says Schultz.
Find a clinic that offers a payment plan.
When you're researching clinics, talk to them to see if they offer payment plans for treatment. There are clinics that offer financing and even financial counselors to help you navigate the costs of treatments like egg freezing and IVF. For example, Fertility Finance, a company that provides loans for fertility treatments, is partnered with Shady Grove Fertility clinic. Another financing option is to use a credit card. "I've had many clients charge it on a high-limit card so they're able to get rewards as they pay it down, as well," says Marie Brown.
Some clinics offer egg-sharing programs where you can freeze your eggs for free if you donate a portion of them to someone who is not able to use their own eggs for IVF. Keep in mind that if you're looking into this option, you will have to pass FDA testing and medical requirements to be an eligible donor, and may have to go through multiple cycles of egg retrieval depending on policies of the clinic offering this program.
Look for discounts on fertility medication.
Fertility medicine is expensive. Luckily, there are programs out there that offer discounts; bio-pharmaceutical company EMD Serono, for example, has a Compassionate Care program that offers patients income-based discounts. They also have a rebate program that reimburses 10% of the cost of some medications. "Fertility medications are fairly expensive, being about $3-7k for an egg freezing cycle, so a 10% discount on certain prescriptions could end up saving you hundreds of dollars," says O'Neill. If you con't have insurance coverage, make sure you research different speciality pharmacies to see where you can get the best out-of-pocket prices on medication.
Freezing your eggs is definitely an investment—but one that can give you the time you need to focus on other areas of your life without having to sacrifice your dream of starting a family one day. Take your time in researching all the options—both medical and financial—to make the choice that is right for you.