Supplied Money Annie and Neal Krempin with sons Michael, 8, and Leonardo, 6 weeks
Supplied Money Annie and Neal Krempin with sons Michael, 8, and Leonardo, 6 weeks

IVF costs force families into debt

Eight years, five rounds of IVF treatment and around $45,000 in out-of-pocket costs.

That's what it took Annie and Neal Krempin to bring their new son, Leonardo, into the world as a little brother for their first child, Michael.

"It was an exhausting and expensive process, despite saving for a long time in advance and being gifted money from family," Mrs Krempin said.

The Krempins are among a record number of Australian parents forking out tens of thousands of dollars to have children through IVF, and many are going into debt to do it.

"We didn't have IVF cover on our health insurance and were surprised by how low the IVF rebate was considering I had medical reasons for needing IVF," Mrs Krempin said.

"In the end, every round cost us approximately $9000 out of pocket when adding up medication, doctor appointments, ultrasounds, blood tests, day surgery, anaesthetic and testing."

Annie and Neal Krempin with sons Michael, 8, and Leonardo, 6 weeks. Picture: Supplied
Annie and Neal Krempin with sons Michael, 8, and Leonardo, 6 weeks. Picture: Supplied

Drained emotionally, physically and financially, the couple almost gave up.

"Luckily for us, we decided to do one last round. And it worked!" she said.

Each IVF cycle can cost around $10,000, with patients getting about half that back from Medicare, but extra costs such as egg collection, embryo transfer and drugs can push out-of-pocket costs much higher.

Just one in five IVF cycles results in a live birth, University of New South Wales research has found, so it's little wonder some couples are looking for loans to help them out financially.

Peer-to-peer lender SocietyOne's CEO, Mark Jones, said in the past two years his firm had seen a "significant increase in personal loans used for medical use, and in particular to fund IVF treatments".

"Australians are increasingly seeking out greater financial stability and career success before starting to have children," he said.

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"However, fertility rates aren't necessarily increasing in line with this.

"This means couples may need the added help of medical intervention such as IVF in order to fall pregnant."

More than 15,000 IVF babies are now born in Australia each year.

Mr Jones said SocietyOne's personal loans were most commonly used for debt consolidation, home renovations and holidays.

"However, we've also had customers use their loan to fund solar projects, visa fees, and even vet bills," he said.

Financia managing director Angelo Benedetti said personal loans were also being increasingly used for cosmetic surgery.

"Plastic surgery and breast enlargements are very common - we are getting a lot of inquiries because a lot of people don't have $15,000 to $20,000 to spend," he said.

"Very often it's young people.

"People are also using personal loans for shortfalls when buying houses."

Mr Benedetti said people with capacity in their mortgage could be better off financially drawing down on that debt at 3 per cent interest rather than an 8-9 per cent personal loan.

@keanemoney


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