IVF: Fertility financing a concern in USA.

I was in a state of shock when I read an article by Jessica Silver-Greenberg in the Wall Street Journal. The article was about the rise of “fertility financing” for couples who are undergoing fertility treatments such as IVF. I had no idea there was such an industry in the United States. I am from Australia and have never heard of the term “fertility finance”. Yet, Ms Silver-Greenberg used it in such a manner as to suggest it is a commonly used and understood term for Americans.

It was reported that some couples have taken out unsecured loans carrying interest rates of up to 22%! This is much higher than the average American credit card interest rate of 17%.

During slow economic times with low demand for conventional lending, financiers have honed in on the fertility industry, eyeing the $20,000 plus treatments. Banking regulators do not keep a track of this “fertility financing” but it is estimated to be an industry totalling at around $4 billion.

Surprisingly, there is no medical regulatory body overseeing this trend. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine does not have a policy in relation to this matter. It seems “fertility financing” is being regulated by the greed of financiers and doctors using the scheme to grow their practice. Lenders have recruited doctors to either sell or place brochures and marketing material in their waiting rooms. Some doctors even facilitate the processes on line by soliciting applications on their clinic’s website.

You may say, what is my problem? Being involved in reproductive treatments I understand how vulnerable couples can be when they are desperate to have children. There is just too much scope for abuse in such a system. Having funds so readily available will no doubt allow more couples to be “sold” fertility treatments. Come on doctors isn’t this about what is right for the patients? I have witnessed some predatory marketing tactics in the fertility industry, but this is just too much!

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