The mounting cost of getting pregnant is leading some clinics and doctors to offer bulk discounts on infertility treatments.
Jim and Sue Ruggerio of Basking Ridge, N.J., had been trying to conceive for several years. In 2003, Sue conceived naturally, but had a miscarriage. She underwent one round of in vitro fertilization before she sought the help of the doctors at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey.
"I just couldn't understand that something that seemed so natural for other people was such a challenge for us,” Sue Ruggerio said.
But she is not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant and staying pregnant.
At RMA’s facility in Morristown, they learned about a program called Attain IVF, which allowed them to pay for a series of IVF treatments up front, in order to save up to 40 percent in the long run.
“It's nice to have the cushion, and the whole process is very stressful to begin with,” said Jim Ruggerio. “Knowing you paid for three up front takes the stress out of subsequent tries.”
One cycle cost the Ruggerios about $15,000, so they paid just over $30,000 for three cycles. And Attain IVF offers a 70 percent refund if the treatments do not result in a live birth.
Sue was lucky -- she became pregnant with her first son, Matthew, after two IVF cycles.
But not everyone has such results, according to Dr. Tom Molinaro.
“A lot of times the couples think 'This is my only chance.' It can be quite stressful emotionally,” said Molinaro. “Having the idea that you are going to have more chances makes couples more comfortable with the process, especially because many couples need the third or fourth cycle to get pregnant.”
Another benefit to the multi-cycle package, according to Molinaro, is the diagnostic side.
If doctors can't get it right the first time, they can tweak other factors like medication, to improve a couple's chances the second and third times.
Which may be one reason the Ruggerios got pregnant on their first IVF cycle when they were trying to have their second son, Daniel.
“I would not change a thing,” Sue Ruggerio said. “I’m so blessed to have these little boys.”