Surrogacy is a monumental journey and a rewarding way to grow your family. Surrogacy is also expensive because it can be a complex process with many professions working together to support intended parents on their way to parenthood. One of the questions intended parents ask at the outset of their journey is how much is surrogacy?
When you are speaking with different agencies, you are likely evaluating their costs for surrogacy. You may be wondering: Is there anything I can do to keep surrogacy costs down? Why do some agencies cost more than others? How can I avoid unexpected costs that break my budget?
This blog post will shed some light on what to look for in surrogacy costs and how to avoid paying more than you anticipate. At the end of the post, we’ll show you how an all-inclusive surrogacy cost program is the right financial choice to help you control your surrogacy costs.
What Do Surrogacy Costs Cover
Before you put costs from two different surrogacy agencies up against each other, know that different agencies estimate costs differently.
First, review an agency’s website or speak with them directly to understand how they are calculating costs. Some surrogacy agencies will provide ranges for the services that are covered in their cost plan. Many agencies will estimate and collect costs based on the “best case scenario” for your surrogacy journey, assuming:
1 surrogate match
1 embryo transfer
A local surrogate
No negotiation in the surrogate agreement
Using your surrogate’s insurance
While we hope every surrogacy journey is a best-case scenario, the reality is that there can be bumps in the road (just like with traditional pregnancy). Best-case scenario costs do not take into consideration the fees that come along with these challenges that intended parents can face. The cost of a surrogate is only one part of the overall surrogacy cost.
If intended parents require an additional embryo transfer (or transfers), they would be required to pay the costs for the embryo transfer a second time since only one embryo transfer was factored into the original costs. These fees include the surrogate’s and her companion’s travel and daily stipend, her transfer payment, lost wages for her and her companion and more monthly fees since you are matched longer. (The same goes for any additional embryo transfers that may be needed after that). Should the intended parents need to rematch with a new surrogate, they would need to pay the matching and screening costs for a new surrogate. If intended parents are unable to use their surrogate’s insurance, they will be responsible for obtaining and paying for insurance for her.
Here’s what those unexpected costs could look like:
≈$8,000-$10,000 for a second transfer
≈$6,000-$8,000 for medical screening, travel, and legal (for contract work if another surrogate match is needed) plus any rematch fees the agency might have
≈$6,000-$10,000 for a surrogate’s insurance premium, plus any copays, deductibles, and backup insurance plan (if purchasing), which could add another $3,000-$5,000/year
These costs are not usually ones intended parents are thinking of—or agencies are preparing you for. It’s natural to go into surrogacy with the mindset that it’s a science with little room for error, but that is not always the case.
What Is NOT Included in the Surrogacy Price
The next step in determining the price of surrogacy is to read through the list of fees and determine what is NOT included. This is where you can see whether additional fees will factor into your overall costs for surrogacy. It’s important to note that IVF costs are not usually included on any agency’s surrogacy cost sheet, as they are separate costs paid to the IVF clinic.
Intended parents can use this checklist to see if these necessary costs are included in the overall surrogacy costs:
Local/outside monitoring appointment costs. This includes the cost of the surrogate’s appointments (there are multiple appointments and blood draws) and her travel (mileage) to the appointments. NOTE: Local monitoring expenses—though performed at a clinic—are NOT covered by the intended parents’ IVF expenses, and most agencies do not include these line items as part of the overall surrogacy costs
Insurance review of the surrogate’s insurance plan.
There are also unknowns and surprises to plan for during a surrogacy journey. Here are some optional expenses intended parents should keep in mind:
A backup insurance plan. This plan can be purchased by the intended parents in case the surrogate’s insurance plan does not cover the surrogacy for whatever reason.
Insurance plans for other contingencies. Some contingencies might include if your surrogate has to go on bed rest, if there are complications during the embryo transfer, and if she should have a loss of reproductive organs.
Some agencies may offer a plan for bed rest, but this cost is not usually included on the agency’s cost sheet, so it’s not factored in the overall costs. And since bed rest is something that arises later in the pregnancy, this can be a cost intended parents are not prepared for far into the journey.
Variable Costs Can Make Surrogacy More Expensive
There are three times during your surrogacy journey when you can experience variances in your surrogacy costs. This is especially important if you have prepared to pay the total cost given to you by your agency, and they do not include any of the below.
Variables During Surrogate Negotiations
The types of variances you can see during surrogate negotiations will not be known until you have a surrogate match and you are negotiating the carrier (surrogate) agreement. During this stage, you may experience variable expenses for:
Travel. If your surrogate lives in the same state or close to your clinic, your travel costs for her will be lower; however, if she lives across the country or two plane rides away from your clinic, her travel costs will be much higher. Remember, intended parents are responsible for all surrogate travel costs, including airfare, hotel, and meals.
Contingencies. Contingencies during your surrogacy journey include things like the surrogate’s monthly miscellaneous fee (what is she asking for?), her post-birth recovery fees and lost wages (this will be dictated by what type of job she has and what her salary is), and the insurance costs (does she have her own or are you required to buy an insurance plan?)
These are the types of costs that you won’t know until you know who your surrogate is because they are unique to her.
Variables at The Start of the Journey
While the embryo transfer time is an exciting one, it is filled with financial variables that intended parents will need to plan for.
Failed transfers and rematches. Your first embryo transfer may not be successful, or you may find that you need to rematch with another surrogate. When a journey is prolonged for any reason, intended parents end up paying for things additional times.
Multiple transfers. Each time your surrogate has an embryo transfer, intended parents will be expected to pay for her travel, hotel, and lost wages; her travel companion’s lost wages; the embryo transfer fee she’s paid; and local/outside monitoring expenses.
Rematches. If you need to match with a new surrogate, you will need to pay the costs for the new surrogate's medical screening (includes the screening, her travel/hotel/meals, and her lost wages).
So while you may know the fees involved in surrogacy upfront, intended parents can end up paying for these fees more than once.
Variables Due to Challenges in the Surrogacy
Pregnancy can be a bit unpredictable, and intended parents may face bumps in the road that can cause financial stress.
Here are a few different challenges that may arise during a surrogacy journey:
Surrogate’s insurance gets denied
Extended bed rest (with lost wages)
Loss of reproductive organs
Each of the challenges above has costs associated with it. For example, if your surrogate has a miscarriage, and you start the process over again with another embryo transfer, you will be required to pay for all of the expenses of the journey again. Plus, you will have to replenish the escrow account that is being used to pay your surrogate monthly.
Why an All-Inclusive Cost Program Gives Financial Security
There are many variables and fees that go into making up the total cost of surrogacy. In order to provide intended parents financial security and allow them to plan ahead for their surrogacy costs, Circle Surrogacy created its all-inclusive fixed-cost Journey Protection Guarantee Program.
The Journey Protection Guarantee (JPG) Program includes all surrogacy-related costs an intended parent can expect, no matter what happens on their journey. The only costs not included are IVF costs, which are paid to the clinic.
The JPG Program covers:
Unlimited expenses for transfers and all costs associated with the transfer (including surrogate travel, fees, and local/outside monitoring)
Unlimited rematches with a surrogate and all associated costs (if needed)
All surrogate fees and costs (monthly misc, base fees, fees for milestones)
All contingencies, including:
Bed rest (and lost wages, no cap)
Miscarriage (and any funds that need to replenish the escrow account)
Loss of reproductive organs
The goal of this all-inclusive program is to eliminate the financial stress and surprise costs that can come along with a surrogacy journey. With this program, intended parents will know the total cost of their surrogacy from the very beginning of the journey, and they will never pay more money.
Not only does this program control the costs, but it also eliminates the emotional cost and stress of making decisions over money and getting bills every month. Imagine not knowing what your mortgage was every month until you opened the envelope—that would be really stressful and you couldn’t plan for how much money you needed.
Paying one cost for a surrogacy journey also enables intended parents to enjoy their journey and make the right decisions for them versus the right decision for their bank account. When it comes to matching with a surrogate, intended parents can focus on who the woman is and if she feels like a good match. This is a much better way to find the perfect match instead of choosing a surrogate based on where she lives and how much money she makes for lost wages to reduce her fees and costs.
Other Benefits of the All-Inclusive Cost Program
With Circle Surrogacy’s fixed cost program, you can look at the program as not paying for individual surrogacy fees but instead paying for our services to support and cover you until you have a baby. You don’t know what kind of surrogacy journey you’re going to have until you’re in the journey.
The JPG Program also provides fairness for equity and helps all parents achieve parenthood. The program is also beneficial for surrogates: They are guaranteed payment no matter what happens (because Circle is financially backing the intended parents and ensuring escrow is funded).
If you’d like to learn more about Circle’s all-inclusive cost program or even compare our costs to other agencies, we’d be happy to help. Just fill out this parent form and our Parent Team will be in touch!