1 in 25 Australian babies are now conceived through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The median age of women undergoing IVF is also increasing, with patients aged over 40 now accounting for one in four IVF cycles. These changing lifestyles mean there is an increased demand for IVF – particularly treatments that Australians can afford.
For those Australians needing medical intervention on the road to parenting, assisted reproductive technology like IVF is often the first port of call. Unfortunately, for the longest time the price of IVF has been prohibitive, putting a barrier between those who need it and their dream of parenthood.
But there's good news. IVF providers, such as Adora Fertility, are making the parenthood dream more attainable with low cost fertility treatments.
By bulk-billing all Medicare-eligible expenses, patients can typically expect out-of-pocket expenses of under $1,000 per cycle, and even less for individuals with private health insurance. A far cry from the tens of thousands of dollars often charged per cycle from providers in the past.
"What we've been able to do is remove the cost barrier by bulk billing up to 85 percent of the treatment, and we're not charging any out of pocket on top of those bulk-billable costs," explains Jaime Simpson, General Manager for Adora Fertility.
"The IVF cycle, egg collection, sperm collections, embryo transfer … all of those procedures can be bulk billed to Medicare," says Jaime. "The only costs that will be incurred are things like day surgery, the anaesthetist fees and any medications that are not covered by the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).
"A client can typically expect an IVF bill under $1000 per cycle, even less for those with private health insurance."
And these reduced costs don't mean a reduced delivery of success for their clients.
"We're very passionate about what we do, and we're very successful," says Jaime, who claims it's the simple fact that they're not adding any additional fess onto the bulk-billable charges that enables them to keep their cost down.
"Our clients, who are now parents, can attest to the fact that we deliver a huge success rate."
One of those clients is Sydney mum Sara Litchfield, now the proud parent of a gorgeous ten-month old named Parker.
"After being quoted around $10,000 -$15,000 per cycle by a popular IVF company, it was looking impossible," explains Sara.
Sara had fallen pregnant naturally at age 37, but sadly the pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. She and her husband, Liam were not too worried, assuming that it would happen eventually.
"When we found ourselves in our 40s and it still hadn't happened, we thought, 'hang on, we might need a little help here," says Sara.
Originally quoted $10,000 for a cycle of IVF, the pair went away and saved up only to be told at their appointment that because Sara's age was now 41 the price had gone up by $5,000.
"Because I was older and probably not producing as many eggs they would need to retest the embryos, and that would make it a little bit more expensive," explains Sara.
Knowing that it usually takes at least three cycles, Liam and Sara had a big decision to make.
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Sara went to work the following day after her disappointing appointment, where a workmate mentioned she was sure a friend of hers had success with IVF after paying much less.
"She messaged her friend who responded that the price was more like $500 per cycle after private health insurance," says Sara.
"I thought it sounded too good to be true, and assumed it would be means tested, and they wouldn't take us on.
"But, desperate, I called anyway and the operator asked , 'When would you like to come in? Tomorrow?' I was blown away, I was expecting it to take months."
Cautious about the low pricing and what that meant in terms of success, Sara's concerns were laid to rest with a pretty succinct explanation.
"Science is science!" says Sara. "The fertility doctors are specialists, they're doing this service without adding any cream on top, out of the goodness of their hearts to make it possible for families like ours to afford IVF."
There was no means testing, Sara and Liam were able to undertake three cycles at a cost of $600 per cycle. A vast difference to the original quote that potentially priced them out of parenthood.
"Not only was it more affordable, the support and compassion from the specialists along the way was incredible," says Sara.
When it comes to choosing a provider, Jaime suggests you find out all of the costs up front.
"Do your research, and I would certainly focus on costs, the true costs. At Adora Fertility our aim is to be as transparent as possible in terms of what you are actually paying. No hidden costs, no surprises," he says.
"If you're finding an IVF provider's explanation of costs to be confusing, that may be a red flag, it shouldn't be difficult to understand."