When we think of birth control, it is usually in the context of the responsibility of the person with a uterus. And although we have moved on from the old ways of tracking ovulation and the phases of a menstrual cycle, the blame still falls more on one party than the other. Whether it’s taking oral contraceptives like the pill, or long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like intrauterine devices (IUDs) or contraceptive implants, the person who could end up with unplanned pregnancy often takes the lead when it comes to preventing this from happening.
A major exception to this is vasectomy, aka “the snip” – a simple surgical procedure that prevents sperm from leaving a penis. People choose to have a vasectomy for a variety of reasons, including financial ones. But how much does a vasectomy cost exactly? Is this something that the insurance covers? And how does the cost of a vasectomy compare to other birth control options, like IUDs or tubal disputes (having your tubes tied)? Here is what you need to know.
What is a vasectomy?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that cuts or blocks a person’s sperm supply to their semen. After a vasectomy, a person with a penis will still ejaculate, but their semen will be free of sperm. The procedure is considered low risk and is almost 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
Vasectomies are usually outpatient procedures and are performed under local anesthesia. And although vasectomies are technically reversible, they are still considered âpermanentâ contraception. This is because the initial vasectomy procedure takes about 20 minutes, but a vasectomy reversal can take four to six hours and is much more complicated, according to Penn Medicine.
How much does a vasectomy cost?
The cost of a vasectomy depends on several factors, including the type and location where the procedure is performed, but according to Planned Parenthood, it typically costs between $ 0 and $ 1,000. There are two types of vasectomies: one that involves an incision and another that is done without a scalpel or a cut. The non-invasive method tends to have a lower risk of infection and other complications, and generally takes less time to heal. Contact a clinic or urologist directly to determine if there are any differences in cost between the two varieties. If you can’t afford a vasectomy (with or without health insurance), ask your healthcare provider about sliding-scale payment options, which are sometimes available.
Does insurance pay for a vasectomy?
Another important factor when it comes to the cost of a vasectomy is health insurance. Many health insurance plans, including Medicaid and other government programs, offer free or low-cost vasectomies, notes Planned Parenthood. And while health insurance plans almost always offer some level of coverage for vasectomies, it’s important to look at the details. For example, some plans may fully cover or have a low co-payment for the procedure, but others only come into effect if the person has already reached their deductible. If they didn’t, they might end up paying for at least part of it out of pocket.
How does the cost of a vasectomy compare to the cost of tubal ligation or the IUD?
A vasectomy might seem expensive compared to a few packets of condoms, but overall it’s one of the most cost-effective contraception options available, considering how much money is saved on other forms. short-term contraception, such as condoms, pills, and other methods.
According to Planned Parenthood, without health insurance coverage, the price of an IUD is comparable to that of a vasectomy, between $ 0 and $ 1,300. But when you factor in that IUDs need to be replaced every seven to 12 years, that could mean multiple IUDs and procedures – and increased costs.
But when you compare a vasectomy to a tubal dispute (aka âgetting your tubes tiedâ), the difference is stark. First, vasectomies are six times cheaper than tubal disputes, notes Planned Parenthood. Second, as Dr. Alex Pastuszak, a urologist and fertility expert at the University of Utah Health, notes, vasectomy is a safer and cheaper option than tubal ligation.
âTubal ligation requires strong general or regional anesthesia, so the anesthesia is already more severe and the side effects that result may be greater than those of a vasectomy,â says Pastuszak. “And then just in terms of the pregnancy itself, while tubal ligation is just as effective as [a] vasectomy – over 99 percent [effective] – you may still be at risk of an ectopic pregnancy or incomplete closure of the fallopian tubes, resulting in pregnancy. “