By Alanna Kennedy
The Price of Fertility
By Alanna Kennedy
Many health insurance companies don’t cover fertility treatments, but even those that do won’t usually cover fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment. This can result in significant cost to patients who wish to bank sperm or freeze eggs or embryos before they begin treatment.
Egg and sperm collection procedures can be especially expensive. The average cost of sperm banking is $1,500 for three sessions and five years of storage. Hormone treatment to stimulate egg production can cost $2,500 to $5,000, not including the cost of egg harvesting ($8,000 on average) or egg harvesting with in vitro fertilization ($10,000 on average). Egg or embryo storage fees are an additional charge.
Storage fees are a particular concern for cancer patients. Most individuals who consult a fertility specialist are trying to become pregnant right away, but cancer survivors frequently want to freeze eggs, embryos or sperm prior to treatment or shortly afterward, in anticipation of starting a family in the distant future.
And that can get costly. After the first five years of storage, sperm banking can run anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per year, while the annual cost for egg and embryo storage can be more than $2,000. In the face of such fees, Melissa Sileo, who heads LiveStrong’s SurvivorCare program, encourages cancer patients to talk to their insurance providers to try to negotiate coverage of these costs.
If the insurance company doesn’t budge, patients may be able to turn to Sharing Hope, a financial assistance program run by LiveStrong. Through a partnership with the pharmaceutical company EMD Serono and fertility centers around the country, Sharing Hope helps male and female cancer patients gain access to free egg-stimulating hormones and reduced-cost fertility preservation procedures. A male cancer patient may be eligible if he has an annual household income less than $75,000 (married) or $50,000 (single). Female cancer patients must have a household income less than $100,000 (married) or $75,000 (single).