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The trials and tribulations of funding conception


For many, the decision to start a family and bring a baby into the world is a time of joy and excitement. However for an increasing number of Australians, it can also be a time of worry, financial burden and emotional turmoil.

Unfortunately, what should be the most natural thing in the world – conceiving a child – can be really hard. As many as one in six couples have trouble getting pregnant.

For women, once you hit 36 years of age your chance of conceiving naturally is halved compared to the chances you have at age 20. There is also a gamut of other female fertility issues to contend with besides the effects of age including issues with ovulation, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, to name a few.

And let’s not forget the gentlemen in this discussion; a little known fact is that male infertility is the single biggest factor influencing a couple’s chance of conception (with 40% of cases a sperm related cause).

As the reality sets in, many need medical support in their quest to become pregnant. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is one such treatment that many couples struggling to conceive explore.

However, while IVF provides hope – it can also bring with it a financial burden that can take a toll.

How much does IVF cost?

IVF costs vary greatly depending on the treatment provider. Out of pocket expenses (the gap between actual cost and what is covered by Medicare) for an IVF cycle in Victoria can range from around $485 for Healthcare Card Holders (Medicare safety net met) to upwards of $4,501 (Medicare safety net not reached) for everyone else. And that’s before considering any additional screening/testing which a specialist may order.

On top of costs of the cycle, the treatment may also involve a day hospital procedure, of which Medicare may not cover the cost of – however it may be covered by your private health insurance (if applicable under your level of hospital cover).

Often, it takes more than one cycle for success – and then, success is not always a guarantee.

Funding treatment – what are my options?

For some, trying IVF comes after many attempts at other, less invasive, treatment options which have already taken a hit to the hip-pocket. For others, IVF is the only treatment option available to them. Whatever the case, there are a number of options that may be available to fund your treatment. These include;

  • Savings
  • Securing a loan
  • Early release of superannuation benefits

Saving to conceive

If you’re thinking about having a baby, it makes sense to start saving. Birthing and raising children can be an expensive exercise in itself, but as we have discovered earlier in this piece, it can also be expensive trying to conceive to begin with.

It might be overly simplistic, but dedicating a portion of your savings entirely to the goal of conceiving, is often the first step to funding fertility treatments such as IVF.

Do your research into the different IVF providers and the different costs you may encounter and calculate your savings goal. Work out how much you can afford to save and put this aside.

Securing a loan

While having enough money in savings to cover IVF is an ideal scenario, it isn’t always the case – especially if you have depleted savings on multiple failed cycles or exploring other treatment options.

In cases such as these, securing finance is an option you may want to consider. There are a few different loan options available including;

  • Unsecured personal loans
  • Medical loans

Depending on your eligibility for credit, you will usually have a range of different loan options available to you.

But be wary of interest rates and potential hidden fees and charges – you don’t want to pay more than you have to.

Aside from formal loan agreements, it may be worth talking to family and/or close friends who may be in a position to help out. This option certainly isn’t for everyone but if you are lucky enough to have this available to you, it could lessen your burden.

Accessing your super

If multiple failed attempts at trying to conceive has taken a toll on your mental health, you may be eligible to apply for an early release of superannuation benefits on compassionate grounds, to help pay for IVF treatment. The Department of Human Services (DHS) oversees such applications and will only approve applications by those unable to pay for the expenses by other means, such as savings, and all applications require supporting evidence.

However, while it may be possible to access funds in this way, taking from your super should only be considered as a last resort. IVF success rates in Australia range from around 40.1% per embryo transfer leading to a live birth for patients under 30 years, to 8.5% per embryo transfer leading to a live birth for patients over 40 years. There are no guarantees; so even if you are successful in acquiring funds from your super, there is a chance you still might not be successful in becoming pregnant.

It’s also important to consider that women, on average, retire with around $92,000 less than men – a super gap of 46.6%. The only way to recover these lost super funds is with time and work, or to make a contribution to your super fund out of your own pocket. Are you prepared to take away from your future self when there is no guarantee of present success?

The struggle to conceive can be a very emotional and trying experience – one that is only compounded by the stresses of financing the process. However you don’t have to suffer through this alone. At The Hopkins Group, our mortgage and finance team may be able to assist you in finding an IVF loan that is right for you. If you have any questions about financing IVF, why not speak to The Hopkins Group today?

General Advice Warning: This advice may not be suitable to you because it contains general advice that has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal financial advice prior to acting on this information.

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