Tracie and Walter D., Washington, US
After 18 months of failed attempts at conception, Tracie and her husband, Walter, decided to see a doctor. The initial tests showed that Walter's low sperm count was probably the cause of their difficulty. They were advised that IVF (with ICSI) was the most promising treatment.
Tracie did her homework. She read up on the procedure and realized it provided the best hope for the family she and Walter wanted so desperately. The problem? Money. "My doctor told me it is very costly and not usually covered by insurance," she says. "When I found out exactly how much money we were dealing with, my heart sank."
Tracie and Walter considered having infertility treatment locally. They did some investigating and found that their regional clinics achieved acceptable success rates but at a very high cost, especially for medications. In her local library, Tracie found a book titled Budgeting for Infertility. The book included a chapter about traveling abroad for IVF and listed the top ten countries. The write-up on Barbados Fertility Centre was positive, so Tracie sought more information and learned that the clinic is JCI accredited. Tracie was impressed by the credentials of the staff and their high success rates with male-factor infertility.
Despite their enthusiasm and thorough research, Tracie and Walter were nervous about spending a lot of money, and the risk of getting nothing in return. But after talking with Barbados Fertility Centre founders Dr. Skinner and Anna Hosford on the phone and corresponding via email, the couple grew more comfortable with the idea of medical travel and felt they knew what to expect from the clinic and the procedure. "We understood it doesn't always work the first time," Tracie adds.
Once in Barbados, all the couple's concerns soon vanished. "I thought the medical team was excellent," Tracie says. "They were very professional and well organized and also friendly. They had a way of making you feel relaxed. Communication was excellent." For Tracie and Walter, everything went perfectly. In addition, the vacation time served as more than a relaxing break from their busy lives. "I really appreciated being able to [have this treatment] in such a relaxed and beautiful atmosphere," Tracie says. "It really did help to alleviate much of the stress that came along with this whole fertility journey."
Tracie and Walter estimate that they saved US$7,000 on the IVF/ICSI procedure alone. Buying the drugs abroad was another major money-saver. Tracie's US doctors had given her an estimate of $4,000–6,000 for her medication. Instead, she arranged for most of her drugs to be delivered from a reputable international pharmacy at a cost of $1,500. "We did spend about $5,000 on airfare, accommodations, food, and lost income...but we also spent 17 days on the beautiful beaches of Barbados rather than sitting in traffic and doctors' waiting rooms!" says Tracie. "Even with all the travel expenses, we saved at least $6,000 and also got a Caribbean vacation." Even better, Tracie and Walter are now the proud parents of a healthy baby boy.
Last updated on 5 December 2015
Before Leaving the Hospital: Get All the Paperwork
Impatient to be gone, and often suffering the woozy side effects of surgery and post-operative pharmaceuticals, patients too often find themselves back at home later, missing important documents that could have more easily been obtained on site. So before you hightail it out of your hospital or clinic, be sure that you have all of your important documents.
Generally, larger hospitals provide complete medical documentation as part of the standard exit procedure. However, some smaller clinics may rely more on verbal instructions, and they are less likely to build and maintain a dossier on your case.