Despite advances in science and medical knowledge couples have to consider the possibility that IVF treatment might not be successful in the first instance. Can refund guarantee programmes guarantee success? The answer is obviously not, however what they can guarantee is a peace of mind. Such schemes can prove a cost-effective way of limiting financial outlay whilst offering a refund if a pregnancy isn’t achieved.
Which are the factors that influence IVF success?
The most common question patients ask when looking for a clinic is, ‘what are your success rates’; it is, however a simple question with a complicated answer. Are we talking about clinical pregnancy rates, heartbeat rates, established pregnancy rates (12 weeks) or live birth rates? Clinics will use statistics in different ways; age is one determinant of IVF Success – do your homework and check the different success rates by patient’s age.
Another factor which affects successful IVF cycles is the quality of the genetic material of the couple. The quality is affected highly by age but also by other factors. The quality of the clinic and the protocol that is used are also factors. The medical expertise of the clinic and their ability to make a personalized diagnosis of what is the problem and what protocol should be followed to achieve a success contributes to about 40% to the success. The other 60% is affected by the quality of the laboratory of the clinic. The latest technology in laboratory equipment and the high-quality expertise of lab scientists could greatly boost success chances.
Success is often an accumulative process and on average 90% of couples achieve a positive result after 3 cycles of IVF. Even with the best quality of genetic material (young donor eggs and high-quality donor sperm) at the best clinic with the best medical and laboratory expertise, the success rate at any given embryo transfer does not exceed 75%.
What is a refund guarantee IVF programme?
A refund guarantee programme offers a multicycle IVF option for a set price. It usually contains 3 cycles, which is the average number needed for a successful result.
It includes any number of transfers in each cycle, depending on the number of embryos developed. In addition, it covers all medical costs within IVF, including medication, embryo freezing costs and basic lab methods such as ICSI and blastocyst culture.
One of the important elements of such a programme is that patients know exactly how much they have to pay until they achieve their desired positive result. Also, since a refund guarantee programme usually guarantees live birth, it allows patients to repeat an IVF cycle in case they have a miscarriage. Finally, patients know that in case no success is achieved, they are going to get a refund back.
Of course, in order for the refund programme to be able to work, it requires certain age and medical criteria. Normally in an own egg IVF, the refund percentage would be 100% up to the age of 37 and 50% up to the age of 39, in addition to any medical criteria that has to do with the ovarian reserve and semen quality. In egg donation IVF there are no age criteria since all donors used are young women up to 30 years of age.
The refund guarantee programme price is based on the clinic treatment price and its success rates, so that lower clinic prices and higher success rates are lowering the overall programme cost.
It’s worth mentioning that you may find different names for the “IVF refund” programs:
- shared risk IVF program
- IVF money-back guarantee
- IVF guarantee
All of them mean the same – an IVF refund based on the expected treatment outcome.
Common myths about refund guarantees and travelling abroad
All eligible women succeed first time, so they would lose money from a refund guarantee programme?
More than half of patients do not get an established pregnancy in the first cycle, since they either do not succeed or they have an early miscarriage.
Do refund programmes have hidden expenses?
This depends on the programme, however, a genuine refund guarantee programme should be all-inclusive and offer a full refund of everything, as far as medical costs are concerned.
If I get pregnant and I miscarry I will lose my money since the programme will cease after pregnancy?
Most programmes guarantee live birth not just pregnancy, so you should be covered for miscarriages.
Travelling abroad is a lengthy process and I could never afford so many days off
Actually, the maximum time that it is required to be abroad is 10 days, so you can just take a week off with a weekend and that should be enough. All preparation and monitoring can be done in the UK.
Clinics abroad are cheaper because they have low quality:
This is perhaps the biggest myth and as discussed above, several low-cost clinics, particularly in specific European countries have much better quality and service than the average UK ones.
Who goes abroad for a refund guarantee programme?
The concept of the refund guarantee IVF started years ago in the US, however, prices are extremely expensive in the other side of the Atlantic so that multi-cycle refund programmes become even more pricey. In order to choose which programme is best for you if you go for an IVF abroad, it would be good to consider the following elements.
IVF refund programme cost
Because of the refund guarantee, programme prices are more like insurance policies. The more risk is involved, the higher the premium price one has to pay to receive this guarantee. To get an affordable refund guarantee programme, you may have to travel to the location of the clinic that offers low-cost IVF with high success rates. This is very difficult to achieve in the UK because quality has a high cost. There are clinics in other countries that offer high quality at low prices due to lower operational costs.
What’s included in IVF refund package?
When comparing programmes, it is good to look at what is included in the price. Very often programmes do not include medication, which is a major percentage of cost in IVF or do not include basic and important costs such as ICSI, blastocyst culture, time-lapse incubator etc.
Getting an all-inclusive programme may save you a lot of money at the end.
Personalised attention and support
Success has a lot to do with how much the medical team at the clinic has looked into the specifics of the individual case. Most IVF clinics in countries such as Spain, Greece and the Czech Republic offer Skype calls with medics at off-peak times (evenings) establishing an opinion on both treatment options and protocol. In addition, they have dedicated coordinators that look after patients throughout their IVF journey. The medical and psychological advantages of this
service cannot be underestimated.