Is freezing your eggs worth it? For those of us exploring egg preservation as an elective family planning measure, the answer is simply that it depends on the cost.
Of course, there are many factors that comprise the decision to explore egg preservation. Medical reasons, like preserving fertility after a cancer diagnosis, can spur the necessity for egg banking. But, egg freezing can insure against the potential need for costly infertility treatments like in-vitro fertilization, or IVF treatment, later. Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Maria Menounos, and Whitney Cummings are among a growing consortium of women that have publicly exercised their egg banking options, all touting the peace of mind they’ve achieved in the process.
But just how much does freezing your eggs actually cost?
Estimates certainly vary, and the cost to freeze your eggs in the present, in order to avoid needing to undergo IVF in the future, is a calculated risk. But the fact is that egg freezing – which can cost as much as $10,000, not including additional egg storage costs – is less expensive than an approximate $20,000 IVF bill. Additionally, there are scientific studies that underscore the idea that freezing your eggs can be more cost effective than IVF – the caveat being egg preservation will be more effective if completed by age 35. All of this means that egg freezing and the associated costs may be an option worth exploring.
The Process: A Cost Breakdown
The first step is to get a fertility consultation and assessment. Depending on the provider, this consultation may be free of charge. If you’re a healthy candidate for the egg-banking procedure, you’ll next be prescribed somewhere between eight to twelve days of hormone injections. The hormones stimulate the production of multiple eggs, rather than the usual one egg that is released in a single menstrual cycle. The cost of these hormones has decreased from $2,000-$6,000 to a range from approximately $1,500 to $4,000 today. It’s worth noting that hormone injections for egg preservation are more often performed in the doctor’s office with each visit potentially incurring a separate charge. During the course of these visits, also expect repeat vaginal ultrasounds and blood tests.
The actual egg retrieval process is a short surgical procedure to retrieve the eggs from your ovaries. Egg cryopreservation rates start at around $9,200. The last step is for the frozen eggs to be shipped to an egg bank. Storage fees can vary anywhere from $300 - $1,000 per year.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
It is easy, but not wise, to assume that egg preservation is simply not covered by your health insurance. Unless you're lucky enough to work for a company that covers the process, such as Google, Facebook or Apple, the costs associated with freezing your eggs are likely not completely covered by your insurance plan. But you may be surprised to learn that some portions of the process may be covered. Before your first consultation, speak to your insurance provider to learn more.
Here is a list of questions to ask your health insurance provider:
• Are diagnostic testing and the initial physician consultation covered by insurance?
• What are other elements of the egg freezing cycle are covered (i.e., blood work, ultrasounds, and STD screening)?
• What are the total out of pocket costs that I will spend for a single egg freezing cycle?
• What is my co-pay for each doctor’s visit?
• Are multiple egg freezing cycles covered under my plan?
After you’ve spoken to your insurance carrier, and you’ve been deemed a healthy and qualified candidate for egg preservation by your doctor, be sure to ask your healthcare provider if there are any generic brands for the prescribed hormones. The biggest variables in the costs of the egg-freezing process are the cost of the stimulation hormones and the storage costs. If you’d like to move forward after that, it is time to compare the costs of the egg storage providers.
Here are some questions to specifically ask of egg storage providers:
• Is there a money-back guarantee if I don’t use the eggs?
• Alternatively, is there a disposition fee if I decide not to use the eggs?
• Are there financing options to cover storage fees?
• Are the eggs stored here indefinitely, or are they shipped to another third party cyrobank after a certain period of time? If shipped elsewhere, do I pay a separate extraction fee?
• Is the yearly storage cost guaranteed? Will it ever increase?
The decision to freeze your eggs is a highly personal one – and one that requires research and planning if you want to save money in the process. The need for affordable egg preservation options is certainly a real market driver for the burgeoning egg freezing-only clinics. Hopefully, classic supply and demand economics will drive costs even lower in the near future.