$18k and counting: the true cost of fertility preservation and surrogate fees

Courtesy photo: MSP Mag
Our BigHMO doesn't cover in vitro fertlization (IVF) or any of the costs or fees associated with a surrogate. I assumed costs of both of them would be through the roof, but none of that bothered me when I got the uterine cancer diagnosis in February. Even though the doctors wanted to do the hysterectomy right away, I pushed back and said I wanted to retrieve my eggs first.

I've since learned the term for this procedure is known as "fertility preservation." It means that, in the face of losing the capacity to reproduce, you do what you can to preserve your ability to have kids. For me, that desire was instinctive. Turns out that most insurance carriers don't cover fertility preservation, even in the face of cancer.

Since I haven't been able to find much on the true cost of fertility preservation -- and the reported costs on the interwebs of using a surrogate have been wide-ranging from $15,000-130,000 depending on which site you visit -- I decided to be completely transparent here for the price of this carnival ride. (The site that offered "Our Guatemalan service for only $42,000" freaked me out a little.)

That way, if you're considering going the surrogate route, you've got a rough idea of the costs involved. Keep in mind, this is based on us being in California, our surrogate being in New Jersey, the embryos being routed through Nevada, and the baby being born in Pennsylvania...a map to follow that meandering trail is forthcoming. Your price may vary.

Here's the true cost of fertility preservation and surrogate fees for us: 

Running total: $17,957.62 (with discounts)
Running true cost: $25,909.90 
(what we would've paid had it not been for discounts from 
kind doctors and drug reps who wanted to help us out)
  • IVF procedure (mine): $9,737.72 (discounted from $12,000)
  • IVF medications (mine): $0 (discounted from $5,000)
  • Blood tests (us): $1374.90 (discounted from $1,764.90)
  • Uncompensated gestational carrier agreement: $2,000 (discounted from $2,300)
  • Contract review (for the surrogate): $750
  • Insurance review: $300
  • Pennsylvania Parental Establishment Order: $2,500
  • Court filing fees: $300
  • Psychologist reviews (for all parties): $450
  • Cost of shipping embryos to East Coast: $545 
  • Costs as of Aug. 27, 2010. Other costs to be added as we incur them.
A note about discounts: it never hurts to ask. For quite a number of these bills, doctors, drug reps, and companies gave us discounts when we told them our story. I can't tell you the number of times I said, "We're paying for all of this out of pocket because our health insurance doesn't cover fertility preservation or IVF. Do you offer any type of assistance or discount?" There's so many nice people out there who want to help.

Since well before my uterine cancer diagnosis, I've wanted to be a mom. Have a baby. Change poopie diapers. Tell them they're making all the wrong decisions. A cute, hopefully red-headed, sure-to-be spirited spitfire like her mom. (Send me my future kid's therapy bills now for saying "her" out loud in the case one of our 6 embryo-popsicles turns out to be a boy.)

But babies don't pay for themselves. So far we're using a mixture of small loans and credit cards to finance Baby DeFrias. We're also exploring a second mortgage. If that doesn't pan out, we'll be putting the rest on the credit cards. You know how old people do reverse mortgages, paying down until the day they die? I see these costs as an investment, where we're doing a sort of reverse allowance for our future kid(s) -- and they'll be paying us back with household chores until they're 21.

*Updated as of 8.19.10 - we'll keep adding to the list as the bills come in,


paddyandhenrysmom said…
It's totally worth it. I pay over $20K/yr for day care for the boys, and I wouldn't for a second rather have the cash. A lifetime of joy is, as they say, priceless!
Unknown said…
I'm with Sara :) You won't ever look back and think about the money, as you already know. You just climb on the train and hang on for the wild ride. :)
Kara DeFrias said…
I guess I should have been more clear in the post - I SO know it's all worth it. :) I'm not keeping a running total to complain; I'm keeping it so other folks who are considering surrogacy know the costs involved and can be informed. (We honestly have no idea how much this is going to cost.)
Babydreams2011 said…
Hey Kara- I came across your blog and read it from start to current just now! LOVE IT.. Congratulations on beating cancer (TWICE!) and also on having found your surrogate.. I look forward to following your journey to success!
Kara DeFrias said…
Thank you for the compliment! That's very kind of you to say. :)

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