It’s understandable why some couples are drawn to “Baby Guarantee” programs — especially in the United States where surrogacy costs are so high. A Baby Guarantee can have value for nervous clients who are worried about surrogacy and need reassurance about the viability of the IVF process. But for most couples, the program has little value.
The extra costs of a “Baby Guarantee” is not for any medical service, but really to give a sense of security for the Intended Parents. Statistically, a Baby Guarantee program will cost much more money in the long term and doesn’t improve the chance of success. But that extra expense gives peace of mind.
What is a Baby Guarantee.. and what is NOT.
What most US programs offer is not really a “Baby Guarantee” program. A “guarantee” suggests that if you don’t get pregnant the clinic will refund your money. What these programs are offering is an “multiple attempts” program, which means the clinic will keep doing embryo transfers until you are either pregnant, or until you give up trying, or until the clinic can establish that you are infertile and thus ineligible to continue.
Either way, the clinic doesn’t offer any real certainty that the IPs will have a baby. And regardless of the outcome, the clinic keeps your money.
For those looking for an actual Baby Guarantee program, ask the clinic under what circumstances they will refund your money, and how much will they refund. Some “Money Back” or “Low Risk” programs are available at clinics in Kiev or Cambodia. Most likely, the answer will be that a U.S. clinic will never refund money; or if they do, only if it can be showed that the Clinic was medically negligent.
Can a Baby Guarantee program save money?
To answer this question, you need to do some simple math.
If the likelihood of pregnancy is 70% for a fresh embryo transfer, and 50% for each subsequent transfer, then the likelihood of getting pregnant after just 3 attempts is about 92%. The likelihood of pregnancy after 5 attempts is about 99.5%.
Of course 99.5% is not “certainty”, but it’s pretty close.
Most likely the Baby Guarantee program costs an additional $20,000 USD; and that’s the cost of about 4 additional attempts. So you would need to have about 9 total attempts before the cost of the Guarantee becomes justified. Those four extra attempts will take you from 99.5% chance of pregnancy, to about 99.8% chance of pregnancy.
But here’s the rub… It’s super unlikely that IPs will use 9 attempts. There are three reasons…
- First, because they are 99.8% certain to be pregnant before the 9th attempt.
- Second, if you don’t get pregnant by the 5 attempt, it’s most likely because of a fertility issue with either the sperm or egg donor — and if that’s the case the clinic probably will invalidate your contract.
- Third, most couples do not have the emotional strength to go through 9 failed pregnancy attempts (most can’t really handle even 3 attempts — it’s just too hard emotionally.
So here is summary on Baby Guarantee programs… If you feel the need for an assurance and a sense of “trust” in the IVF process, then a Guarantee is a good idea. It’s expensive, but it will definitely buy you some peace of mind. However, understand that the Baby Guarantee program will not save you money nor will it ensure that you will have a baby.
If you want assurance that you will have a baby, the best way is to check out the quality of the clinic and their success rates. In the U.S. there are independent services that track success rates. If there is no independent agency that reports those stats for your region, you can ask the related service providers who do businesses in the region (egg donation agencies often keep note of how many of their donations result in pregnancies).
Intended Parents can also take steps on their own to improve dramatically the likelihood of a successful program. The most critical factors are often not the doctor’s competence, but things that are in the parents’ own control, such as the quality of the sperm and the fertility health of the egg donor. Most often the greatest point of risk of an IVF programs is within the control of the Intend Parents, more so than the clinic. And no Baby Guarantee program will help there.
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