Financing Fertility: NHS Funding

The cost of infertility treatment is typically high, leaving many couples who are trying to get pregnant looking for financial support. The National Health Service (NHS) offers couples seeking infertility treatment one fertility financing option; however, the type of procedures covered – such as fertility testing and assisted reproductive technology (ART) – varies, and there are certain eligibility criteria that couples must meet in order to get funding from this type of infertility insurance.

Health Insurance and Potential Coverage

Fertility financing in the UK has been largely unregulated in the past; however, in April 2005, the government had announced that funding by the National Health Service (NHS) would be available for eligible couples who are trying to conceive but are experiencing infertility. The following infertility treatment costs could theoretically receive funding from the NHS:

  • fertility drugs or medication
  • IUI (intrauterine insemination)
  • IVF (in vitro fertilisation)
  • ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection)
  • IVF (in vitro fertilization)

In particular, a couple should be able to receive one full cycle of IVF treatment if they meet certain eligibility requirements. In many cases, the type of infertility coverage that will be available under the NHS will largely depend on the criteria presented by the Primary Care Trust in the region. This in turn means that fertility financing by the NHS still largely varies, and is dependent on factors such as location.

NHS Eligibility and Infertility

NHS funding for fertility is closely associated with the guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE). These provide recommendations for criteria to be used by the NHS in order to determine which couples can be diagnosed with infertility, and who should be eligible for funding.

In order to be eligible for fertility financing under the NHS, a couple must be determined as infertile based on certain criteria. In addition, preference will be given to some couples trying to conceive based on several factors outlined by their primary care trust (PCT). Some of these factors and guidelines for eligibility include the following:

  • couples in which the female is between the ages of 23 and 39
  • couples with an identifiable cause of infertility
  • couples who have been experiencing unexplained infertility for at least three years
  • couples with no existing children
  • couples with no existing children on the maternal side

In addition, waiting lists can be long when it comes to NHS funding. This leaves some couples looking for private care or investing in infertility treatment abroad.

Cost of Infertility Treatment

The NHS is looking to implement the guidelines set forth by the NICE. However, when partial coverage is offered by the NHS, it can decrease fertility test costs and other treatment fees. This means that there could be a significant decrease in the total cost of infertility treatment packages including the cost of fertility drugs, scans and consultations.

The following are typical private costs of fertility tests and treatments without NHS funding. These costs vary according to region:

  • IVF - £4,000 to £4,500
  • IVF and ICSI - £5,000 to £5,500
  • Treatment with donor eggs - £4,500 to £5,700
  • PGD and IVF - £6,000

With NHS funding, infertility treatment costs are typically reduced by £1000 to £2,500.