This morning I had math on my mind. Well, math, health and shopping, actually. What do all three things have in common? Let me tell you. They all have had to pay for IVF.
I was talking to five Facebook friends across Canada and I tallied up the price tag of their collective infertility journeys. The tally came close to several hundred thousand dollars. That’s five families. $300,000 to $400,000 paid to build four families. One couple was not successful yet.
I can tell you that the infertile couples I interview, and meet and talk to often as community manager for Conceivable Dreams, the Ontario OHIP For IVF patient group, are not wealthy. They are typically very average Ontarians, and Albertans and British Columbians. At least average from a socio-economic perspective. They do not have money to spend on health care in a country where health care is known to be universally accessible and free. Nor do they have income to pay for IVF endlessly out of pocket.
A Few Infertility Stories
One of my friends is a school teacher. She has all but given up on having a family after trying to conceive for years. She is aging out of the opportunity to have kids biologically – even with assisted reproductive technology. Another has a child and is a stay at home parent with a husband who works in law enforcement. Yet another is a nurse. One works in the field of interior decorating. One had twins after he and his wife went to the United States to get the treatment they needed. He notes they returned here pregnant with twins and had two very long stays in hospital with premature babies.
High Cost of Infertility
Individually each of these friends paid a minimum of $10,000. (That’s an average round of IVF, sometimes the costs exceed that with medications.) Many estimated their price tag much higher. One friend I interviewed here months ago spent $50,000 on in vitro fertilization. Another paid close to $100,000 because it is not funded in Ontario, or Alberta, or BC, or Saskatchewan. IVF is covered entirely in Quebec. Three rounds of single embryo transfer are covered there meaning fewer maternal health care issues and fewer premature multiples. The Quebec investment equals health care savings and healthier babies and families. In Manitoba there’s a tax credit.
So I got to thinking. What could these couples, or individuals requiring infertility health care have spent that money on instead. What if they didn’t have to pay for IVF?
Here’s what you could buy for $10,000
(A practical list)
1. Your child’s RESP –
Not a year at university but with the right investment, it could be. (A really smart financial guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade has been quoted as stating you should put away about $200 a month in RESP – that’s $2400 a year. So essentially that’s 4 1/2 years you could have invested in your child’s education.)
2. The roof over your head –
A roof on your house costs anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000 (sadly many of the couples I know struggling with infertility in Ontario have remortgaged their homes so no new roof for them, just debt.
3. A used car –
A car that’s got a few years on it perhaps but it’s reliable _ maybe the one that you need to get your partner back and forth to work to be, say a productive taxpayer. Hmmm…
4. Braces for your children (1-2 of them)
Yes braces are crazy expensive. That might cover two kids. Some people have a bit of insurance coverage for dental, but still, with two kids you’ll pay close to that.
5. A new furnace –
My new furnace cost me about $6,000 two years ago. You might spring for the air conditioner too, so you can regulate and keep your house warm and cool. Pretty vital in our area of the world.
One of those things is a pool table for inside your pool.
Another is gold pills.
Yet another is a rocking chair bed.
What’s my point?
That’s not what any of these people are trying to buy. Instead, they are trying to buy health care, a chance at having a family. They are trying, in several areas of Canada, to buy a chance at building a future like the picture at the start of this post.
All of these infertility patients need a champion. In BC, in Alberta and in Ontario – each of these provinces has been asked to consider funding in vitro fertilization. Each is coming close to making the decision to potentially help infertile people build strong and healthy families.
Time to Step Up
Families Shouldn’t Go Broke Trying to Pay For IVF.