This was the text I sent to C and my best friend, as the large bag of drugs sat in the passenger seat besides me. Over sixteen hundred dollars worth of drugs.
Reality has a nice way of presenting itself when you must pull out your wallet. The previous futuristic, abstract concept and idle fantasy of beginning IVF are no more. This is really it.
As a bit of education, I will now list all of my medications and their purposes. I will then discuss the two strategies I employed to save some money overall. Please excuse the incredible boringness that is to ensue.
Brand Name: Follistim
What is does: Makes the eggs grow big and strong
When/how you take it: A subcutaneous injection given early in the cycle, once per day in the evenings until the eggs are a sufficient size (typically 10-14 days later).
Brand Name: Ganirelix
What is does: Stops my body from ovulation prematurely (i.e. before they want)
When/how you take it: A subcutaneous injection given at exactly the same time each morning (this may prove to be difficult), beginning when the eggs are in double-digit sizes up until they want you to ovulate
Name: 10,000 iu HCG
What is does: stimulated ovulation and gives them one final burst to mature
When/how you take it: A subcutaneous injection given a specific number of hours before the retrieval
Brand Name: Lupron
What is does: May be used in place of an HCG trigger because there is less of a chance of OHSS (Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome) - My doctors made me buy both because it will likely be a last minute decision
When/how you take it: Similar to HCG I believe, it's subcutaneous and is given at a very specific time before the retrieval is scheduled
Brand Name: Methylprednisolone
What is does: A steroid that is used decrease the chance that my body "will reject the embryo as a foreign body" as the pharmacist explained it
When/how you take it: Right around the retrieval/transfer for a few days. This is an oral medication.
Brand Name: Doxycycline
What is does: An antibiotic that prevents me from getting an illness that could reject the embryo
When/how you take it: An oral medication taken right around the time of retrieval/transfer for a few days
Brand Name: Estradiol
What is does: Replaces the estrogen to restore some hormonal balance that the other medications have severely f*d up
When/how you take it: A transdermal patch that I apply post-transfer for many days (unsure of the specifics here)
Brand Name: Progesterone
What is does: Helps to support a pregnancy and prevent miscarriage
When/how you take it: An intramuscular injection (ouch!) that is usually given in the rump daily immediately before the transfer and then up to 10 weeks into the pregnancy if I should be so lucky.
My insurance covers no medications that are used for infertility treatment. I'm fairly certain the antibiotic and steroid were covered, but nothing else. The birth control cost me absolutely nothing, so feel free to roll your eyes along with me in irony. I employed two basic strategies to save money.
1) I filled out an application for cost savings. There are many out there but the one my doctor recommended was FirstSteps. The application was actually quite easy - the hardest part was locating our tax forms from last year. You could qualify for 25%, 50% or 75% off on the qualifying products and we qualified for 25%. Initially I was bummed out by this because I was hoping for more, but then C reminded that this a pretty sizable chunk of change.
2) I charged the medications on my credit card that is offering 5% cash back this quarter for pharmacy purchases. I calculated the savings to ~$65 back, so it's something. Even if you have a credit card that offers 1% back, it's still something. As long as you pay it off immediately. Otherwise you're losing money. I also plan to pay for the IVF this way, although we'll only be getting 1% back for that.
We also have a specialty pharmacy in town and I picked up my meds during my lunch hour rather than having them shipped. I'm not sure if this is something that they charge for, but I didn't want to risk it. Also, the idea of having this much money worth of medications in the hands of a courier service freaks me out, especially with the weather the way it's been.