Tuesday, July 01, 2014

When IVF patients are penny wise and pound foolish

Most infertile couples are not sure how to select an IVF clinic. IVF can  be very expensive and because finances are often a constraint for these patients , they often use the cost of the IVF treatment as important metric in their selection process .  Lots will therefore select the cheapest clinic – the one which offers IVF for the lowest cost.

Unfortunately , this often ends up as being a penny wise , pound foolish decision for many reasons . While there are many clinics which charge very little for doing IVF, their success rate is so low that a lot of the money which patients spend on their IVF cycle just goes down the drain . These clinics don’t have the equipment, experience or expertise to be able to do IVF properly. They end up cutting corners, and this reduces their pregnancy rates.

Because their primary goal is to attract more patients, they offer very low charges , and lure lots of patients. It’s only when the patients sign up and start the cycle that they realize that the clinic is poorly equipped. Often then cannot do ICSI , they do not have the equipment to take photos of the embryosl and they do not have the expertise to freeze spare embryos.  Fertilisation rates are poor and they often blame the patient’s eggs or sperm for the IVF failure.

It’s very easy for these clinics to take patients for a ride, because often patients are completely clueless about what's involved in an IVF cycle . Because they have not done their homework, they do not know how to differentiate between a good clinic and a bad clinic. They are easy targets for these unscrupulous doctors . Lots of these low cost IVF clinic will actually mislead patients about their charges . They will sign patients up by promising a very low IVF fee. However, when the cycle actually starts, they add on lots of additional fees for extra tests , which patients were not informed about in advance. Thanks to this sneaky underhanded act , patients often end up spending much more than they had budgeted for .

Patients need to use their common sense , and remember that in a capaitalistic country like India , where there is free competition between IVF clinics , the market will set a price which is realistic. Cheaper is not always better . The shortsighted approach of trying to find a bargain in order to save a few rupees actually ends up wasting a lot of their hard-earned money .

Not only does this waste money, it consumes precious time. Even worse, when the doctor tries to cover up the real reasons for the repeated failures, they lose confidence in all doctors. They often abandon treatment, and even refuse to get a second opinion from another IVF clinic because they start believing that all IVF clinics are crooked. This is the real tragedy , because they deprive themselves of their best chance of having a baby.

You get what you pay for – and if you pay peanuts, you usually end up getting treated by monkeys . Now this is not to suggest that expensive clinics are always better – or that clinics which charge more always provide better care. All this means is that patients cannot just blindly look at one aspect of IVF treatment. They need to spend energy in doing their homework and making sure they know what's involved in IVF treatment , so that they can find the best clinic for themselves .

A simple way of doing this is to see how responsive the clinic . Do they answer emails promptly ? Are the replies canned replies sent by a secretary or an assistant ? Do they spend time on educating and informing you, so that you have realistic expectation about IVF treatment ? Are they willing to take a long term approach which puts your best interests first, rather than look at you as a short-term source of income for themselves ?

While budgetary constraints are a bitter fact of life, patients who have financial difficulties can always their IVF clinic for financial help. Most good clinics will provide this, if they are convinced that you do need financial support.

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