The Hidden Costs of Surrogacy

Submitted by Shelby D Burns Wed 04/07/2010

Family There is no doubt that surrogacy is an expensive alternative to creating a family, but one that many couples thoughtfully embrace. The known costs are fairly easy to factor: 1) medical expenses for embryo transfer and insemination, testing and pharmaceuticals, 2) payments to surrogate for reimbursable and incidental expenses, co-pays and insurance deductible, 3) legal and court fees, and 4) administrative costs for a search agency or other surrogate screening agency. These costs alone range from $35,000 to $65,000 and sometimes more. The unknown costs are equally important. Many couples assume that the actual cost of prenatal care and delivery will be covered by the surrogate’s medical insurance. However, the fine print reveals a trend toward the exclusion of surrogacy from coverage. There are at least three ways that insurance companies deal with surrogacy: 1) explicit exclusion, 2) unclear or vague exclusion, and 3) omission from policy. Explicit exclusion is just that, the insurance company will not cover prenatal care, any aspect of the pregnancy, delivery or care for the newborn. No vagaries. The unclear exclusions are vague enough to fall in favor of the insurance company, whichever way they want to go. A policy may not cover “a surrogate mother” – but is that the insured or the contracted surrogate? Very discreet inquiries need to be made. Finally, no language regarding surrogacy could be the best ultimately, but the insurance companies can fight it. The parents may win, but they lose legal fees, court costs and precious time. One way to watch legal trends is to keep an eye on current court cases. Recently, a judge ruled that the child, biologically the product of the intended parents, born to a surrogate, was covered by neither the biological parents’ insurance nor the surrogate mother’s insurance. The judge ruled that the surrogate’s insurance company could not be expected to cover the medical costs of a baby which was not biologically hers and which she had no intention of raising. The parents, assuming the surrogate’s insurance would cover the new baby cost, did not enroll the newborn in their insurance program. By not enrolling the newborn as required, they lost coverage. This judge followed the letter of the law and respected the insurance companies published policies. The best advice is to know what you can tolerate financially in the best case and worst case scenario. And to be flexible. If you can find a surrogate with insurance, that may give her a significant advantage. In all cases requiring legal advise, consult an attorney with questions and for best guidance.

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