How to fund fertility treatment

More couples are struggling to conceive, but IVF prices remain astronomical. Start saving now

The number of couples struggling to have a child is rising. According to Child, the Nat- ional Infertility Support Network, infertility now affects one in six couples.

The number of couples struggling to have a child is rising. According to Child, the Nat- ional Infertility Support Network, infertility now affects one in six couples.

Unfortunately, infertility treatment can be expensive and success is not guaranteed. Along with the emotional and psychological strain, the financial burden can be prohibitive.

"I have come across people who have been forced to take out a mortgage to pay for infertility treatment," says Anja Ruppert at LRMS, insurance inter- mediaries. Desperate couples will even move to a local authority rumoured to offer in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) on the NHS.

LRMS will be the first company to offer insurance cover to women who become pregnant by IVF when it launches its policy in the next fortnight (see business news, page 1). Pregnant women will be able to claim back the money they have spent on trying to conceive and receive a pay-out if there is no surviving baby.

This is a staggering development as the funding of infertility treatment has traditionally been shunned by the NHS while insurance companies have been frightened off by the costs. As it is not seen as a necessity, IVF is rarely available on the NHS.

The process is a real lottery, depending on where you live. "There is a spread of availability of IVF treatment across the country, ranging from plenty in Scotland, to sparse in the Midlands, a bit in the South and none in Northern Ireland," says Tim Hegley, chairman of Issue, the National Fertility Association. "Each local authority makes up its own mind as to how much funding is available. The Government has closed its eyes and is not bothered enough to do anything about it."

Where funding is available, the qualifying criteria vary dramatically. Generally, women have to be married and in a stable relationship and neither partner can already have children. One region in northern England only admits women who are exactly 35 years old.

A closer look at the costs reveals why the Government is so reluctant to fund IVF. A single "cycle" - or attempt to conceive by IVF - costs between £850 and £1,500 on the NHS.

If you go private, it costs between £3,000 and £6,000. Costs can escalate as IVF is rarely successful at the first attempt. There is a 35 per cent success rate which means, typically, that it takes three cycles. Six attempts is not uncommon, leaving a couple with a bill approaching £36,000.

So what action can you take if you are having trouble conceiving? Experts recommend that you should try for at least 12 months before visiting your GP, who will refer you to a fertility specialist.

It is unwise to rely on NHS funding as IVF is usually only available privately. If you have to foot the bill, you will need to budget according to your timescale. If you hope to start treatment within the next couple of years, you need to save as much as possible quickly.

"Start budgeting now," says Donna Bradshaw, a director at independent financial adviser Fiona Price and Partners. "Have a good look at your spending and at how you can make savings."

In the short-term, an instant access high interest bank or building society account is your best bet. Northern Rock pays 6.5 per cent interest on minimum balances of £250 in its Base Rate Tracker account. If you have access to the internet, Egg pays 6.3 per cent on minimum balances of £1.

The odds are that trying to conceive could be a long, drawn-out process. Allowing for problems along the way, it could take five years or so to become pregnant. With this in mind, equity-based investments are the best way to build up funds over the medium to long term.

The first step is to use your tax-free individual savings account (ISA) allowance. This is £7,000 for each partner this tax year, £5,000 in subsequent years. You can invest the entire allowance in a maxi stocks and shares ISA or across three mini ISAs.

Choose your ISA depending upon how much risk you are happy to take. Those with low-risk thresholds should opt for a mini-cash ISA. If you invest the maximum £3,000 allow-ance for this year with the Furness Building Society, it pays 6.8 per cent interest with a 100-day notice period. Stocks and shares ISAs, such as the Fidelity Wealthbuilder, should generate higher returns.

"It is important not to pick anything too speculative as you don't want too much risk," says Ms Bradshaw. "Otherwise you'll be left with nothing just at a time when you need to get your hands on some money."

Paying for infertility treatment is just the start. Check what maternity benefits you are entitled to as you will have to take time off work and a multiple birth will put extra strain on finances. A longer-term savings plan is also essential as costs will continue well after leaving the labour ward.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn