Among would-be parents who need a little help conceiving, Chicagoans are better situated than most: Illinois is one of 14 states that require insurance companies to cover fertility treatments (although several loopholes exist, including for companies with fewer than 25 employees or with religious objections, such as Loyola University).

This is good news for local parents, since in Chicago, the average fertility treatment can range from $500 for pills to $12,000 for in vitro fertilization. That is about 10 to 20 percent more than for comparable treatments on the West or East Coast, where an abundance of HMOs drives the cost down, says Dr. Joel Brasch, medical director of Advanced Reproductive Health Centers/Chicago IVF. Annually, aspiring parents in the greater Chicago area (which includes metro Chicago, northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northwest Indiana, and southern Michigan) spend $100 million on fertility treatments, out of $2 billion spent nationally, according to Brasch.

Of course, potential parents could consider some less expensive alternatives first, such as over-the-counter ovulation tests; these cost about $50 for a pack of two. Acupuncture is another option. Larisa Turin, a licensed practitioner who owns ChicagoAcupuncture in the Gold Coast and in Northbrook, claims to have a 65 to 75 percent success rate. Turin says in her experience a two-month regimen, for which she charges about $1,700, is the average time it takes for conception.

Average Cost of Fertility Treatments in Chicago
(per ovulation cycle)
Fertility Pills
$500 to $1,000
($50 per five-pill dose. Costs increase with testing and monitoring)
Fertility Shots
$1,200 to $5,000
($150 to $500 per shot, usually one a day for eight to ten days)
In Vitro Fertilization
$10,000 to $12,000
(Average number of tries it takes to conceive: 1.7)

If the Shoe Fits
Chicagoans still want to be like Mike-at least, according to a recent Simmons Research poll that showed a greater percentage of local residents buying basketball shoes than the national average. Twenty percent of local men and 9.6 percent of women bought them in a 12-month period, compared with 15 percent of men and 7.6 percent of women in the rest of the country. In the same poll, Chicagoans also crowned Nike their favorite brand, with 36 percent of males and 30 percent of females choosing the swoosh.

Men’s Top-Selling Athletic Shoes in Chicago, by Brand
1. Nike     36 percent
2. Reebok   20 percent
3. Adidas    20 percent
Women’s Top-Selling Athletic Shoes in Chicago, by Brand
1. Nike       30 percent
2. Reebok        22 percent
3. New Balance 18 percent
Men’s Top-Selling Athletic Shoes in Chicago, by Type
1. Casual sneakers    39 percent
2. Jogging/Running           21 percent
3. Basketball   20 percent
Women’s Top-Selling Athletic Shoes in Chicago, by Type
1. Casual sneakers    40 percent
2. Exercise/Walking    32 percent
3. Jogging/Running 20 percent

Meal Deal
When it comes to eating out, Chicago diners like a good value, even at the expense of nutrition. More than 55 percent of respondents in a Claritas poll said they’re more likely to visit fast-food joints that feature a good sale, a coupon offer, or a special deal, compared with 51 percent of all Americans.

But that doesn’t mean Chicagoans are cheapskates: only 33.1 percent said they eat at fast-food restaurants with the lowest prices, compared with 36.5 percent nationally. Chicagoans are also more likely than average Americans to eat at a restaurant with a free wireless connection (7.3 percent versus 5.9 percent).