NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 31, 2005

Many infertile American couples are flocking to in vitro fertilization clinics overseas, says the New York Times. The reason? They are cheaper.

While the United States has plenty of fertility clinics (about 355 nationwide), the costs are much higher and typically not covered by insurance. Consequently, couples are looking elsewhere:

  • In the United States, the average cost of one in vitro effort is about $12,400; only 14 states require insurance companies to cover infertility.
  • One couple spent $5,800 per treatment at a German clinic, compared to the price they were quoted in the United States of $10,000 to $12,000 per treatment.
  • Another couple spent only $18,000 for eggs fertilized in Romania and shipped back to the United States, compared to the cost of up to $72,000 for repeated treatments in an American clinic.
  • Several Navy wives are receiving in vitro treatments in Italy, which range from $2,500 to $4,000.

About ten percent, or six million couples, of the childbearing population are infertile, but an even smaller percentage can make use of high-tech procedures such as in vitro fertilization. That proportion translates into about 100,000 in vitro efforts per year.

However, some fertility experts in the United States question the success rate of overseas in vitro efforts. Richard Scott of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey notes that while European treatments are cheaper, they also have a lower success rate. Furthermore, some overseas clinics may be more primitive when it comes to medicines, genetic testing and standards of quality.

Source: Felicia R. Lee, "Fertility Tourists Go Great Lengths to Conceive," New York Times, January 25, 2005.

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