Fertility Mapper, the review platform for fertility clinics powered by community data publishes a brand new UK wide report today The True Cost of Fertility using transparency as a catalyst for awareness and understanding of the true cost of fertility.
Transferring power to people to make informed decisions, Fertility Mapper launches the first ever ‘NHS Fertility Funding’ calculator to provide a solution transforming fertility journeys by harnessing millions of data points to remove weeks of painful research and provide personal NHS eligibility results, instantly for free.
The growing demand
Over 12 million babies have been born via IVF and today a baby is born by IVF every minute (The Economist). Globally, 1 in 6 people worldwide suffer from infertility (WHO). In the UK, 63% of fertility treatments for patients aged 18 - 34 are funded privately (HFEA). Demand for fertility treatment is growing. The restriction of NHS-funded fertility services in the UK is pushing more and more families to private routes and both sectors are defined by a lack of clarity and transparency.
The True Cost of Fertility report takes a cross-sector approach, aiming to raise awareness, reduce complexity and uncover the true cost of fertility in the UK.
The reality is that although many start treatment via the NHS, most people end up in the private sector meaning they are navigating the complexity of both sectors, often at the same time.
For some, the lack of transparency means they wait years, only to find out they’re not eligible for NHS treatment. With age being a key fertility factor, these years could be the difference between a successful conception, or not.
For those accessing treatment through private clinics, it's impossible to pick based on price, meaning that some face bills of thousands more than expected, all at a time of extreme personal stress.
Until now, there was no comprehensive source to help people distil the good from the bad. This leaves ‘patients’ - now also customers - to make one of the most costly and complex decisions of their lives at a time when they are also vulnerable and frequently underprepared.
Fertility Mapper founder Kayleigh Hartigan is a fertility, healthcare and market access expert who has worked across the public and private healthcare sectors for 17+ years. Frustrated by the lack of data and information and the impact this was having on people, Kayleigh launched Fertility Mapper.
On the release of the report and its part in helping to solve the big cost problems in the fertility market, Kayleigh said:
“Fertility is more than simply a healthcare issue. On a global scale it impacts everything from money to society. On an individual level, the process of accessing fertility treatment in the UK is extremely complex. With many people falling out of the net of the NHS, it is driving a huge private market that turns patients into customers.
Together with a lack of transparency, this leaves people with very little understanding of the choices available to them at a time of immense emotional stress which for many can have profound consequences.
Transparency around cost and experience is the first critical step in the fight to create fairer access to high quality fertility and family-building services. By creating this report and building tools, including a calculator that takes away weeks of research and interpretation of hard to reach and understand data, we are not only outlining the problem, but creating an empowering solution.
Together with the community, we are driving fundamental change through transparency.”
The True Cost of Fertility report highlights that much more can be done to make access to fertility treatment in the UK in the NHS and privately less complex for people. Fertility Mapper believes the first step is greater transparency that can equip people with information they need to make the best choices for themselves; one of the core drivers behind this report.
Fertility Mapper is creating tools to inform and empower people on their personal fertility journey. Solutions are both data and community driven, creating an ecosystem of people helping people.
Focused on improving transparency and making a tangible difference, today the tools include:
- NHS Fertility Funding Calculator - users can access, for free, Fertility Mapper’s unique calculator, which enables people to quickly and easily assess their personal eligibility for NHS-funded treatment.
- Clinic Search - users can search, for free, fertility clinics pages containing pricing information and community reviews, complete with detailed scores and personal feedback, to help them pick the best clinic for them.
- Community powered reviews - an anonymous space for individual stories and experiences, as well as ensuring we share accurate, transparent review data. But this is not enough. To drive change, the community needs the thousands of individuals who have been through treatment - to provide your feedback on clinics.
Fertility Mapper, founded by Kayleigh Hartigan is a platform powered by community data, dedicated to improving personalised access to high quality fertility services and rethinking the way fertility treatments are experienced, delivered and paid for.
Report key findings
The report uncovers that complexity hides a multitude of sins across the sector that seriously impacts people’s access to, and experience of fertility treatment.
- NHS-funded fertility treatment is more than just a postcode lottery - it’s a personal lottery, too: in eligibility, in wait times, and in generosity of offer.
- Almost half (46%) of regional NHS boards in England will only offer IVF if the maternal partner is aged under 40 and one ICB will only offer IVF if she is under 35.
- Three-quarters (76%) of ICBs won't fund IVF if either partner has any living children - even if they're from previous relationships.
- Many private clinics don’t include key components of fertility treatment in their advertised package prices, and what's included and not included varies widely between clinics. This means that treatment often costs more than initially sold, and it’s impossible to accurately choose a clinic based on price.
- Only 61% of clinics include blood tests in the advertised price of their IVF package, while only 31% include HFEA-mandated viral screening, and 24% include storage of surplus embryos.
- At a quarter (25%) of the clinics we measured, a standard course of IVF treatment costs 50% more than advertised.
- Data collected from more than 200 reviews on Fertility Mapper’s website found that people had major concerns about the financial transparency of clinics:
- One in nine (11%) rated their clinic poorly (0-4 stars out of 10) for financial transparency.
- A third of respondents (32%) said they were not given a fully-costed plan before their treatment started.