Once parents-to-be begin their search for a surrogate, either in an independent situation or through an agency, they will soon come across the phrase “base fee.” What is this fee for? Who sets these rates? Isn’t that the same as ‘paying’ a surrogate? Why is the word compensation used?

Let me clarify the “base rate factors” for you. In general, a base rate is to cover the 9 months or 40 weeks that your surrogate will be pregnant with her child(ren). It is very rare that the base fee money is distributed before you see a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen. The base rate is usually broken down into monthly payments, however these are not equal monthly installments. Let’s use a fee of $20,000. The breakdown can look like this:

Month one: $1,500
Month two: $1,500
Month three: $2,000
Month four: $2,000
Month Five: $2,000
Month six: $2,500
Month seven: $2,500
Month eight: $3,000
Month nine: $3,000

These fees are usually set strategically this way in a contract because there are many times that a miscarriage can occur in the first few months of an IVF cycle. This way, the intended parents don’t lose a large amount of money and the surrogate is compensated for the time she actually took.

Let’s remember that babies are born on their own schedule, so if a baby or babies are born prematurely, the remaining amount is put in a last check and delivered to the surrogate within 14 days after the birth or whatever stated in the contract. In the case of multiples, an additional amount is often added from month 5 to month 9.

So who sets these fees? Good question! Basically, attorneys and agencies know state by state what those judges will tolerate in regards to a surrogacy fee. That’s why you don’t see women being surrogates and getting paid $100,000! If a judge sees a staggeringly large amount of money in a contract, that fact alone will raise the following questions: “Was this woman coerced? Is she selling her body? Is she selling a baby?” That is why the base rate is called compensation or reimbursement or even living expenses. Surrogate mothers are supposed to carry a child not to earn money but for altruistic reasons. Any money involved is to support them throughout the entire process. The point is that no money should come out of the surrogate’s family budget to support her while she is a surrogate.

The average base fees that agencies ask for their surrogates look like this:
First-time surrogate with her own health insurance: $18,000-$20,000
First-time surrogate without her own health insurance: $13,000-$15,000
Second-time surrogate with your own health insurance: $25,000-$28,000
Surrogate a second time without her own health insurance: $20,000-$22,000
Third and fourth surrogate mothers with health insurance can charge up to $45,000 and those without $35,000.

Yes, there are some variations, but this configuration is the most common. Insurance companies are adding subrogation exclusions every time they print a new policy! They feel that if money is being exchanged, then their politics should not be used as a bargaining chip. If a surrogate has medicaid, then she cannot, under any circumstances, use government insurance! This is FRAUD and is punishable by law. Uninsured surrogate mothers should be insured as soon as possible through one of the few companies that have a policy especially for those involved in third party reproduction or family formation. New Life is one such agency. Needless to say, these are very expensive policies, so an uninsured surrogate receives less compensation than those who have their own health insurance policies with maternity coverage.

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