Single embryo transfer has become a hot topic for couples trying to conceive, and presents a challenging set of questions to consider before completing an IVF cycle. There are many factors to consider, and money often plays a big role. With an uncertain outcome, financial considerations hinge on probabilities. This article considers three possible outcomes and examines financial considerations for each: single transfer success, multiple single transfer attempts, and the hidden costs of multiple-birth.
Single Embryo Transfer Success
Single embryo transfer for IVF works best for couples with at least one healthy embryo, and a high probability of achieving life birth. Single embryo transfers greatly reduce the chances of multiple-birth as only one embryo is implanted. Multiple pregnancies are often high risk, and multiple-birth is associated with a greater chance of pre-term delivery, cerebral palsy, and other birth related conditions.
But transferring a single embryo may increase the costs need to get pregnant. For couples with insurance that covers In Vitro Fertilization there are often limits on the number of cycles that might be covered. The majority of couples have insurance plans with no IVF coverage at all, and they must pay all costs out-of-pocket. So extra IVF cycles drives up the costs of getting pregnant.
The surest way to drive down IVF costs is to minimize the number of cycles needed to get pregnant. Transferring multiple embryos increases the odds of conception, and lowers the cost of conception for couples who must pay out-of-pocket.
So why transfer just one embryo? The cost of getting pregnant is not the whole story. When the cost and probability of multiple-birth are taken into consideration, a far different picture emerges. Couples with at least one health embryo and a high probability of success may find single embryo transfer a very cost-effective alternative.
Multiple Transfer Attempts
The immediate downside from a cost standpoint to single transfers is the greater need for additional cycles. Each cycle needed to get pregnant increases costs. Two healthy embryos have a greater chance of conception than one health embryo. These costs are very visible and come at the beginning of the process. The costs of multiple-pregnancy are hidden, very uncertain, and occur sometime in the future, making the single/multiple embryo transfer question a very difficult choice.
Hidden Costs of Multiple Pregnancy
Most couples are unaware of the hidden costs of multiple-pregnancy, and are unprepared as a result. Compounding the problem, many couples exhaust savings and/or take on debt to pay for the infertility treatments needed to get pregnant. When these hidden costs arise, they find themselves in a financial bind. Some hidden costs include but are not limited to: lost income prior to delivery, extra hospital bills for a NICU stay, lost income after delivery to care for premature infants after hospital discharge, and un-reimbursed medical expenses to diagnose developmental delays.
Single embryo transfer helps minimize these hidden costs.