The Truth About Surrogacy Compensation
There are a number of reasons that women list when they start looking into becoming a gestational surrogate. For some, the idea first comes to them when they see a friend or family member struggle with infertility and want to do something to help. For others, simply being able to do something good for another family is what draws them to surrogacy.
One thing that you may consider when researching surrogacy is the subject of compensation. If you’re interested in finding out more about surrogacy, you may have checked out websites of some of the matching agencies that are out there. Not all of them list their fee and reimbursement rates, and they aren’t always clear to understand. If you find yourself researching an agency that doesn’t clearly list their fees online or in a document, or if they are unable or unwilling to discuss the fee breakdown with you on the phone or in person, you may want to proceed with caution.
Here are some things that are helpful to understand when researching the financial side of surrogacy. It’s a good idea to be familiar with some of the terms that may come up during research, matching, and contracts. A good agency will also make sure that you have someone to talk to who understands how compensations and reimbursements are paid so you don’t feel like you’re navigating alone.
Base Rate. This is the flat fee that a surrogate will be paid for her services. Keep in mind that this fee varies from state to state, and from one agency to another. Most agencies will offer a base rate of $25,000-$45,000 for a first-time surrogate.
There are some circumstances that can increase the base rate that a surrogate is paid. An experienced surrogate can ask for more money – knowledge of the process and proven success is worth it! A pregnancy with two or more babies will be reimbursed more than a singleton pregnancy, because of the added risk of complications. The exact amounts of added compensation are negotiated with the attorneys and clearly outlined in the legal contract so that all parties are aware prior to a pregnancy.
It’s also important to remember that this amount isn’t usually given to a surrogate in one lump sum but is paid out in installments throughout the transfer cycle and pregnancy. Typically, the first payment coincides with the embryo transfer. Some agencies pay out half of the transfer fee with the start of progesterone injections, and the other half on the day of the transfer; some agencies just pay the total fee once. The next installment is usually at the confirmation of a viable pregnancy, which is at the time of an ultrasound that can detect a fetal heart rate. From there, the payments can vary from one agency to the next but are usually given in regular intervals throughout the duration of the pregnancy. There is also a stipend for maternity clothing, and a small amount is given monthly to cover random needs.
Reimbursements. Sometimes there are things that the surrogate may need to pay for and be reimbursed or paid for on behalf of the surrogate. If the intended parents’ IVF clinic is not local to the surrogate, travel expenses will be covered by the IPs, the majority of the time through an escrow account that has been established for the surrogate. Fees for airfare, transportation to and from the IVF clinic, and hotel accommodations can be paid for through the escrow. Food and parking costs are reimbursed or have a daily allowance, so it’s crucial to save receipts. For a clinic within driving distance, mileage needs to be documented so that it too can be reimbursed.
Reimbursements also include any costs related to insurance. A surrogate who has her own health insurance that doesn’t consider surrogacy to be an exclusion of benefits can have her co-pays and deductible payments reimbursed or paid directly out of the escrow. For surrogates who don’t have qualifying health insurance, intended parents will pay for an insurance policy to cover the pregnancy. Intended parents also pay for a life insurance policy for the surrogate for a specific length of time (18-24 months is the average) that would provide coverage for any unforeseen event that results in accidental death. This is a very rare occurrence and surrogacy does not increase this risk beyond that of a standard pregnancy, but life insurance offers peace of mind to all parties.
Complications/Added Expenses. While the vast majority of s
urrogate journeys are uneventful and uncomplicated, it’s always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected. Surrogates and intended parents will be asked to keep these instances in mind when negotiating the legal contracts. Should an unanticipated outcome occur, there will already be a plan in place for compensation.
In some instances, a mock cycle may be requested or required by the IVF clinic. The surrogate undergoes the same process as a transfer cycle, but instead of an embryo transfer, a test is done of the uterine lining that will determine the best timing for the actual transfer. There are also cases where a transfer cycle needs to be cancelled for a medical reason, such as the uterine lining not being the optimal thickness for transfer. Compensation will be given for these circumstances.
Unfortunately, sometimes a pregnancy is not viable and ends in a miscarriage or is found to be ectopic (outside of the uterus). There may also be a viable pregnancy in which a genetic or structural abnormality is detected which would be considered incompatible with life, and a termination might be recommended. For these reasons, a full payment may not be able to be given, but there will be reimbursement for the time and effort that was undertaken.
Alternately, there may be a viable pregnancy that results in twins or triplets, and a medical provider recommends reduction for the safety of all involved. It’s possible that there is an indication for diagnostic genetic testing (chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis) or the intended parents may request this. It may be necessary to deliver by cesarean section instead of vaginally.
In very rare cases, there can be a complication that wou
ld lead to the loss of one or more of a surrogate’s reproductive organs. Ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus all need to be considered when the subject of compensation is discussed.
Many surrogacy agencies will promote compensation as high as $65,000 or more. Amounts this high tend to be inclusive of many of the above mentioned areas to include the base compensation, additional reimbursements, twin pregnancies, experienced carriers, etc. These numbers are not guaranteed and should be researched for clarity. Every surrogate/intended parent match, every transfer cycle, and every pregnancy is incredibly unique. At Vermont Surrogacy Network, we focus on each individual and team, and make sure that we are available to communicate openly and clearly on all aspects of the journey, including the financial expectations. We want you to have a clear understanding of the financial compensation associated with surrogacy.