Secrets to Saving on IVF - When $20k is actually $14k
How To Save on IVF
I'll admit it, I have some cheapskate tendencies. Why pay $8 to the restaurant valet when you can circle the block once and park for free (it's like your first beer at dinner is on the house!) Not only is IVF expensive, you're paying for something that feels like it should be FREE! I get it – I should feel fortunate that we have the money and live in a time/place when IVF is even a possibility. However, that doesn't mean I have to like laying down the cash equivalent to a new Honda Civic for the chance to have the baby we want. Just because that's the reality doesn't mean there aren't ways to save money on IVF. And I'm not talking about enough to buy a beer either…I'm talking about enough for a week in Germany and all the pilsner you can handle. Here are a few money saving tips I've gleaned along the way.
THIS IS THE BIG ONE – IVF IS A MEDICAL PROCEDURE AND THEREFORE IT IS (LIKELY) TAX DEDUCTIBLE!
That's right, IVF can be one of the biggest tax deductions on your return. To get this juicy tax break all you need to do is itemize your expenses and have your total medical costs amount to greater than 10% of your adjusted gross income. It's that easy. Say your household adjusted gross income is $75,000. In a year you could spend $5,000 on healthcare and none of that money would be tax deductible. Now, say you have another $20,000 in IVF expenses. Now you have a combined total of $25,000 in medical expenses, way over the 10% threshold and all tax deductible. Now, I'm not a tax expert so go to your accountant to get more details, but those are the basics. You're welcome. HOT TIP – Include all the expenses for mileage, parking, tolls, etc on the way to your doctors. Those all count towards your medical expenses too.
HSA Accounts Save
If you know you're going to go through IVF this year look into opening a Health Savings Account. An HSA account allows you to pay for a big chunk of your out of pocket medical expenses with pre-tax dollars. What does that mean? You or your employer can deposit PRE-TAX money (up to $6,750 in 2017) into an account that you can use exclusively for medical expenses. For example, say you earn $56,750 this year. If you have an HSA, you can put $6,750 in your account reducing your taxable income to $50,000. Since IVF costs MUCH MORE than $6,750 big ones, you're basically just using your HSA as a way station to save on your taxes. Some HSA accounts also allow you to invest the funds so they can grow over time. Again, talk to your tax guy. He'll fill you in.
Good Ol' Fashioned Shopping Around!
Fertility pharmacies aren't exactly on every corner, but in our area (Southern California) prices on drugs can range dramatically. There are generic options for some drugs, many of which could be available at your local pharmacy, saving you hundreds of dollars. We recently saved over $200 buying generic estrogen patches from our neighborhood pharmacy versus name brand stuff from a specialized fertility pharmacy. Shop around – it can add up fast. Also, not all Fertility Specific pharmacies price their drugs the same, theres significant variation depending on the levels of bulk they are buying at. Email Mo if you'd like us to share our local LA pharmacy chart with prices on drugs at each fertility pharmacy in our region, the prices vary.
Buy in Bulk
In any given IVF cycle you'll buy a lot of drugs. Some pharmacies will give you a discount if you buy your entire drug order from them up front. Talk with your doctor (or nurse) and they may be able to give you a basic rundown of all the drugs you'll need for that entire cycle. Then call up your local fertility pharmacy and see if they offer package discounts.
Pharmaceutical Discount Programs
If you're paying for your IVF out of pocket, there are programs run by the pharmaceutical corporations can save you money. The companies base your discount on your income (or lack thereof) and you can save 5% – to 75% off retail prices. Ask your IVF treatment facility or fertility pharmacy about pharma backed discounts available in your area and how to apply, the one we found and use is Compassionate Care.
Even If Your Insurance Doesn't Cover IVF, Give It A Shot
Blood tests, estrogen patches, progesterone, etc. are elements of IVF that run parallel with other medical procedures. When you buy your drugs or get your treatment, give them your insurance card. Most of your drugs will NOT be covered but some just might be. I think I've said enough here. If you use this method expecting nothing, you will hopefully be pleasantly surprised.
Put The Word On The Street
Big surprise here, we're not the only people we know undergoing IVF. We haven't been shy about it either and we've talked with countless friends and new friends about all the ups and downs. As a result, we've had a few people come forward and offer to give us unused drugs that they will no longer use (or won't be able to use before they expire.) I'd never go panhandling for people's unused meds, but many have offered unsolicited. Make sure you talk to you doctor about this too. Some drugs for example, once punctured with a needle go bad. There are also websites and message boards out there where people offer to give away or sell their unused drugs but that's illegal. Do with that info what you will!
Here's a quick one
My crazy hairdresser got IVF for free as part of a clinical trial. That's all I can say about that. She's kind of kook but she has three kids – all conceived through IVF. I wouldn't want my sweetheart to take part in that kind of thing but maybe you are open to it.
Use a cash back credit card and check your rotating categories. We get 2% cash back for every dollar spent. It's not a fortune, but if you drop $20K on IVF, you can have a nice post pregnancy celebration dinner (or let's lick our wounds and celebrate what we have dinner) with the $400 of cash back coming your way. Some cards also offer quarterly rotating categories of 5% cash back. Guess what this quarter's category is: drug stores! Cha-ching!
FYI, Mo is interviewing her regarding her experiences with trials and how easy it made it for her while TTC, sign up for the newsletter to learn when it publishes.
Lastly, there are grant programs out there to help families who don't have the money for IVF.
They vary by state, income, etc. Ask your fertility doctor if they know of any of these programs or do some research online. One of these programs could save you thousands!
Last way to save money, I needed some latex gloves the other day and I took two from the restroom at the fertility doc's office. I told you I was a bit of cheapskate.