Updated March 21,2019: Family planning isn’t something people do lightly. After all, having a kid seriously impacts your lifestyle and finances. But the method you choose to not have a family can bring just as much financial fallout.
Some methods of family planning are more effective — and more expensive — than others. If you’re considering a vasectomy as a birth control method, it can cost over $3,000. That's pricey, but potentially still more affordable than other options in the long run. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure, the cost and how health insurance plays a role.
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is birth control via male sterilization. The vas deferens are severed by small incisions and tied or sealed. It’s a simple procedure, (usually taking under 30 minutes), anesthesia means it doesn't hurt, and it’s highly effective, preventing pregnancy in 99.85% of cases. Although it’s considered a permanent form of birth control, vasectomy reversals are possible.
The pros & cons of a vasectomy
According to a 2013 study, 16% of men ages 36 to 45 have undergone vasectomy surgery. It’s a growing trend because it has a number of benefits:
- Getting a vasectomy is generally safer than other “permanent” methods of birth control like tubal ligation (getting tubes tied). Vasectomy risks of complication are low, and worst-case scenarios are usually discomfort caused by bruising or inflammation.
- Vasectomies are usually cheaper than tubal ligation, too. Plus, over time, they can be cheaper than recurring forms of birth control like birth control pills or IUDs. Even though the upfront cost is higher, it’s a one-time procedure so it can save you money in the long run.
- Where do you go to get a vasectomy? Almost anywhere! The procedure is easy, so most doctors offices, hospitals and even Planned Parenthood facilities can perform them.
There are some drawbacks, of course. The high upfront cost means it requires more planning than other forms of birth control, and since it's a surgical procedure there are risks (however small) that, say, oral contraceptives don't carry. If you decide down the line you want (more) children, a reversal surgery is another expense. Plus, while a vasectomy prevents pregnancies, it doesn't protect against STDs.
Hint: Health insurance covers most types of birth control. Learn more here.
You should be aware of the benefits and drawbacks before making a decision. But just because you’re thinking of getting a vasectomy, does that mean you can afford it? If you have health insurance, you probably can.
Here are some other medical services men can get for free.
Does health insurance cover a vasectomy?
Most health insurance providers cover full or partial vasectomy costs. However, it’s not guaranteed and depends on your company. Unlike FDA-approved female contraceptive methods, like the pill, vasectomies aren’t one of the ten essential health benefits that every health insurance plan has to offer.
That means you’ll need to do a little research into whether your health insurance covers the procedure and, if so, how much of the bill it will pay. Don’t forget to include your out-of-pocket costs. Even if your insurance does cover a vasectomy, you're still responsible for your deductible, co-pay and/or co-insurance. Keep in mind that if you have an flexible spending account or a health spending account, a vasectomy is an eligible expense. This allows you to use pre-tax money toward the procedure and save on your tax bill. Be sure to check prices between different facilities, too.
How much does a vasectomy cost?
How much will a vasectomy run you? We compared prices using Amino. Below is the average vasectomy cost with health insurance in each state’s major metro area based on Amino’s network rate, defined as an “estimate of the pre-negotiated amount that your providers might bill your insurance for care.”
|State||Metro Area||Average Cost|
|New York||New York City||$2,671.50|
|South Dakota||Sioux Falls||$2,594.00|
|Utah||Salt Lake City||$2,072.43|
(Note: Amino did not have data available for vasectomies in Hawaii.)
Costs range from just over $1,500 to nearly $3,400 with a national average of around $2,394, but it can easily be several thousand dollars more without insurance. Again, your costs will depend on how much you still need to pay out-of-pocket.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking about having a kid, and your finances are a big factor. After all, you'll possibly have to upgrade to a bigger house or apartment, pay for more everyday expenses, save for their college education, upgrade your health insurance plan and buy life insurance.
If you decide you don’t want any (or any more) children — for whatever reason — a vasectomy might be the most cost-effective method in the long run.
If you are an expecting parent, don't forget to read our pre-pregnancy guide.