BBVA partners with fertility company for online health care loan

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BBVA is partnering with the health care firm Univfy to offer express, online health care loans that lets potential in vitro fertizilization treatment patients get the funds needed to attempt the process.

Univfy, which combines machine learning, artificial intelligence and fintech to predict the success of IVF treatments, says it is responding to a high demand. Seven million women in the U.S. struggle with infertility, but less than 3% use IVF treatments, which cost $10,000 to $20,000 each. Two-thirds of Americans don’t have health insurance plans that pay for IVFs, even if they are fully employed and have a good insurance plan.

“Financial barriers are a big problem,” said Dr. Mylene Yao, CEO and co-founder of Univfy.

The partnership is different from the banking-as-a-service direction BBVA has taken lately.

But it is part of a trend in which the bank is offering loans at the point of sale. It also represents a bank working with a fintech partner to co-create a useful banking product that neither could fully develop on their own. The bank and Univfy were connected by mutual partners.

“When we first met, I was super impressed with Mylene’s work and the use case she was describing,” said Shayan Khwaja, executive director of business execution at BBVA USA. “We immediately jumped on it because of the use case and the need in this space very much align with our purpose.”

IVF seekers are not necessarily affluent, though it’s often assumed they are.

“That was probably more true back in the '80s and early '90s, but women who are now in their thirties are getting more educated about the availability and effectiveness of this treatment,” Yao said. “And I think as a society, we are much more open in discussing the different solutions to infertility. For most patients the financial cost is really a big burden.”

The loan process is different from that of the personal loan, where someone goes to BBVA’s website to fill out an online application and gets the funds loaded into their bank account.

In this case, the express health care loan funds the IVF clinics directly. Univfy connects the bank with its member IVF clinics, which BBVA vets. When a patient is ready to apply for a loan, she fills out an online application with some data pre-populated. BBVA does a soft pull on the customer’s credit report.

If the patient is approved, BBVA pays the clinic directly for the treatment. The funds can be in the clinic's account in as little as 24 hours. The loans have no application fees. The amounts can range from $2,000 to $35,000.

The health care express loan is BBVA branded, so the new loan type should help build a customer pipeline for BBVA among the clinics and their patients.

And for Univfy, the ability to offer the loan means it doesn’t have to watch people walk away because they can’t afford IVF treatments.

“In the past, we've gotten feedback from the physicians that some patients really want to do the treatment and after finding out about their chance of having a baby, they are very encouraged,” Yao said. “However, they just don't have that extra, $20,000 to pay for it and other loans on the market have very high rates. So they are interested in alternative options.”

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