Financial Realities of Preimplantation Genetic Testing

by | Nov 6, 2018 | Support & Considerations | 0 comments

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Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) is a combination of IVF and genetic testing to identify genetic disorders in embryos before implantation and pregnancy. Embryos with a lower risk of a genetic disorder are selected for implantation, increasing a couple’s chance of successful pregnancy and of having a child without a genetic disorder.

The decision to undergo PGT is full of emotional and physical factors, and among all the other considerations, the average cost of IVF and the cost of PGT are important ones.

PGT Cost Breakdown

The average cost of IVF is between $10,000 to $16,000 per round, and the cost of PGT for single gene disorders can range from $6,000 to $12,000. Additional costs, such as medication ($4,000 to $8,000), prescreening labs ($2,500 to $6,000) and travel to the clinic, also need to be accounted and planned for. Most couples will also undergo PGT for aneuploidy (PGT-A, formerly PGS or CCS) to make sure that the embryo is chromosomally normal to increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.

Ask the fertility centers that you are considering working with to provide you with a worksheet of potential costs. Be sure to get a breakdown of “package” costs to ensure that there are no hidden fees and to make it easier to compare costs.

While some costs are fixed, others are variable and harder to predict. Your clinic should be able to provide you with the average cost of an IVF cycle, the cost of medications, and an estimate of genetic testing costs. However, they cannot tell you exactly how many cycles of IVF and PGT you may need to become pregnant, or how many embryos will need to be biopsied and tested.

In addition, the price of PGT differs depending on the laboratory used and their pricing structure, the particular mutation in question and how many rounds of IVF may be needed to build the size of family you desire.

Covering the Cost of PGT

In the United States, the cost of IVF has not traditionally been covered by medical insurance companies, but this has been changing. According to RESOLVE (the National Fertility Association website), 16 states now have laws regarding medical insurance coverage of infertility costs. These laws differ in what they require the states to cover, so it’s worth researching the laws in your own state.

If you’re in a state that doesn’t mandate coverage, you can talk to your company’s human resources representative about your insurance to clarify what it does cover. Even if it doesn’t cover IVF itself, your insurance may help with the cost of medications, lab tests, genetic testing, PGT or other parts of the process. Every bit of coverage helps in bringing down the overall cost of PGT. Clinics that frequently work with international patients traveling to the United States often have all-inclusive package pricing to simplify the financial aspect of the process.

Other resources may be able to cover or bring down the cost too. For example, your fertility center may offer cost-saving programs. There are credit options such as loans for covering IVF and PGT, as well as grants.

Is PGT the Right Choice for You?

In the end, no one can answer this question but you. Once you have determined the costs, you should weigh all the other factors to decide what is important to you. Your degree of genetic risk and the severity of the specific genetic disorder may influence your decision. Also consider that having a child with a genetic disease carries its own cost. For example, one study showed that the cost of care for a child with cystic fibrosis was over $63,000 per year. Weighing this cost against the cost of PGT, researchers concluded that IVF-PGT was a cost-effective way of preventing genetic diseases. The availability and acceptability of alternative ways to have a child with low risk, including adoption, prenatal diagnosis and conception using an egg or sperm donor, may also influence your decision.

Decision-making is never easy, especially when it has the potential to be life-changing. Take your time and recognize that going back and forth, changing your mind and occasionally feeling overwhelmed are all part of the process. But ultimately, knowing the facts and considering all your options can help you decide if PGT is the right way to grow your family.

Kathleen Fergus, MS LCGC is a freelance medical writer in northern California. She is also a genetic counselor with over twenty years clinical experience with an extensive background in many medical specialties including oncology, prenatal screening, carrier screening, DNA testing methodologies, newborn screening, public health genetics and rare genetic diseases. Her interest in genetics, health communications strategies and health literacy evolved into a freelance medical writing career. She has written for VeryWell, Exploragen, ThinkGenetic and many other publications.

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