Over many years, some Fertility and IVF programs in the United States developed payment options, called “shared risk” plans. Some plans offer partial refunds if patients are unsuccessful, if the couples are willing to pay for several months of treatment in advance. However, the plans do not offer a refund if the couple conceives in their early attempts. Programs with these “insurance schemes” benefit financially by preferentially offering these plan to patients with the best chances of early conception. At NewLIFE, we find this approach disingenuous, if not dishonest. We have avoided this and taken what we consider a better approach by offering all ART treatments at below national rates. This allows each couple, regardless of prognosis, to decide how many and how often to attempt to conceive with ART.
Do Shared-Risk and Refund Programs offer patients a good value?
Today nearly 50% of U.S. clinics offer patients the chance to buy cycles in-bulk for a discount (known as a package) or with a refund feature (known as “shared risk”). We have mixed opinions on these programs but typically believe they are offered to patients who are otherwise good candidates, succeed early in treatment (2/3 of refund patients succeed in the first cycle, see below) and thus these customers dramatically overpay for results they would have gotten anyhow. What’s more, the list of medical exclusions is enormous (medication, PGS, pre-treatment testing) and as a result most patients spend 25 – 50% beyond the quoted “sticker price”.
That said, patient levels of satisfaction with these programs are high, though we personally believe irrationally so. If you are being offered access to such a program, consider why, the success rates (at which cycle) others like you in the program enjoyed, and the real cash outlay you’re likely to incur.
NewLIFE was an early adherent to this philosophy, and now other resources are supporting our decision that Shared Risk and Refund Programs may not be a good value for patients.