By Gitanjali Banerjee
Infertility in India is considered as a taboo, no one wants to talk about it. But the fact is, around 27.5 million couples in India are suffering from infertility. And not all can opt for infertility treatments. Why? Because of lack of awareness, lack of accessibility to good doctors, lack of fertility care, lack of emotional support and high treatment cost. All of this makes infertility treatments a choice that only few can afford or those who have no choice but endure financial strain. But isn’t parenthood a basic need for every couple?
One IVF cycle in India starts at Rs 1,00,000 lakhs and on an average, a couple spends somewhere between Rs 2,00,000 to Rs 5,00,000 lakhs in this complete journey. A couple prepares themselves mentally, physically, and financially for their IVF treatment. But the hidden hardship starts when there are addons or emergency procedure costs for which the couple wasn’t informed earlier. One of our Fertility Dost community members from Delhi undergoing IVF treatment shared her horrifying experience when the clinic gave her the base price of Rs. 1.80 lakhs for her IVF treatment at the time of registration and she was told there can be a minor escalation of not more than 10% from the quoted cost. Later there were so many tests and addons that the cost almost doubled for which she wasn’t prepared.
This is the breakup of her IVF Cost package cost:
· Base cost = Rs.180,000
· Semen Analysis Rs. 800 to Rs. 1500
· Injections = Rs. 80,000 – Rs.130,000
· Medicines post ET= Rs. 20 ,000
· Embryo freezing = Rs. 25,000- Rs. 50,000
· Theatre fees= Rs. 35,000
· Hysteroscopy = Rs. 25 000- Rs. 40,000
· Scans =Rs. 1,500- Rs. 4000
· Semen storage= Rs. 5000- Rs. 8000
· IMSI= Rs. 40,000
· Anesthesia = Rs. 5000
*The prices are indicative and might change for different locations and processes
Being transparent with couples about cost is extremely important. Recently, I saw an advertisement of an IVF clinic providing a package of three IVF cycles with a gurantee that if they are unable to conceive with this package then there is some cashback. Now, beware of such schemes where you will not only end up paying three times the cost though discounted but still higher and you will have no option to leave if things go South. And what will you do with cashback if your three IVF cycles fail? Sadly, you won’t even have the strength to go back and claim your cashback.
Another clinic was advertising an IVF at Rs 28,000. I was happily skeptical and I called them for details. It turns out the quoted price was just a part of it and then there will be the cost of medicines, injections, tests etc taking the final cost to Rs 1,50,000. Irritated, I asked “then what is an IVF without the injections?”. Clearly it was a marketing scam which our gullible couple easily fall for.
A couple desirous for egg donor IVF cycle came to avail our Doctor matching Service and when we gave them cost of Rs 2-2.5 Lacs they found it hard to believe as they have been quoted by another doctor 3 different package cost of Rs. 5 Lakhs, Rs. 6 Lakhs and Rs. 8 Lakhs. The reason for such high cost was “You get to choose the skin color, hair color, height etc of the donor” but with a disclaimer of no guarantees and we can only try our best all written in fine prints.
- Do your research well
2. Ask lots of questions
3. Keep yourself safe from unethical clinics who are not transparent with costs.
4. Look for real reviews beyond Google rankings. Talk to real couples who have undergone the treatment/clinic to get the real BTS
5. Don’t fall for unethical practices that guarantees a certain gender, colour etc
The Need Of Insurance Policy
In India, only a handful of private & public organizations offer insurance cover for fertility treatments and give paid fertility leaves. We need more reforms to be made under this, because only a fixed amount that too only for specific infertility conditions and only one IVF cycle is covered in such insurance policies. Unfortunately, this is not applicable in every case, as not everyone is lucky to get success in their first IVF attempt. An insurance policy should cover all the fertility treatments like IVF, IUI, ICSI, Egg freezing, medicines, Donor IVF, Surrogacy as well as adoption. It must also cover multiple IVF cycles in its yearly plan.
As far as paid leaves are concerned, there are numerous anecdotes from our community of infertility fighters who have confessed that they had to leave their jobs, their careers only because they couldn’t strike the balance between their job & fertility treatments. This also leads to major financial stress as one of the earring members is now jobless especially when the couple is already under financial crisis.
“Neither my company covered insurance or gave paid leaves. Moreover, my team and boss were troubled all the more so after trying to balance things for 10 months I eventually resigned….” said one of our premium members.
Infertility in India is increasing at an alarming rate. This is also creating an opportunity for some unethical doctors to charge whatever they want. With the new upcoming ART bill, I am hopeful that ART treatments will be more transparent and organized. And soon we will have a realistic insurance plan that will help couples in their IVF journey.
(The author is the Founder of Fertility Dost. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)