Millennials are delaying many life traditions, including having babies. The ripple effects, however, can include financial terrors.
For instance, women may choose to freeze their eggs and/or get in-vitro fertilization — expensive fertility treatments that are often not covered by insurance. Just to freeze one’s eggs can cost a woman upward of $10,000, while a single IVF cycle can cost about $20,000.
“Fertility is one of most expensive areas of medicine,” said Claire Tomkins, co-founder and chief executive of Future Family.
While some companies like Apple and Facebook are starting to offer egg freezing work benefits, Tomkins’ startup, which launched Thursday, hopes to make the entire process easier for women — including for individuals who may not be ready to freeze their eggs yet.
The startup, based in San Francisco, wants to serve as a starting point for a process that is overwhelming, highly emotional and expensive. To that end, it sells fertility tests online that arrive in the mail. After a client receives her lab results, she can set up an online consult with a nurse concierge to discuss. Then enters the fintech part of the play: Should a woman decide to freeze her eggs or receive an IVF cycle, Future Family will provide financing options via a subscription model that also includes an online nurse concierge services and scheduling appointments, among other services. In so doing, Future Family would like to see itself as a financing vehicle that could help shape the next generation of financial services.
“Frankly, you can get a health care loan at many entities,” said Tomkins, who went through six IFV cycles herself.
But Future Family is trying to differentiate itself with a suite of products a woman would want as she tries to have a baby.
“The next gen will say, ‘Nope, capital is a commodity. It’s not enough. If you want to provide financial services, I want more,’ ” Tomkins said.
Future Family is not the only one taking note of the rising fertility trend. Prelude Fertility, Extend Fertility and EggBanxx also think fertility is ready for its rewrite. While the size of the fertility market is estimated around $3 to $4 billion, some expect it to rapidly grow as financing options increase and should the related costs drop.
Still, scaling the business will be among one of the top challenges. These services must target young women — fertility tends to decline in one’s 30s — to buy a sort of insurance on their future. EggBanxx estimated the number of women that will freeze their eggs in 2018 will only be 76,000. And, of course, there are no guarantees that the egg will be able to produce a baby later on.
According to the market research firm PINCHme, however, 30% of 600 women surveyed said they are interested in freezing their eggs.
Tomkins said she expects word-of-mouth to be a very important component to growing the business. Also, the startup particularly wants to engage millennial women and plans to partner with platforms focused on health, career and lifestyle. She said she expects the market will only grow as payment options become more flexible, such as what her startup is doing.
Through Future Family, a woman freezing her eggs with the service can pay as little as $75 per month, while a couple undergoing IVF can pay $125 per month as the starting point. The monthly price can be influenced by someone’s credit score and there are multiple plans to choose from. The standard length of the subscription plan would be 84 months — but that length varies, while the average interest rate ranges between 7% and 12%, depending on the length of the agreement.
For now, it is fairly uncommon to see a financial services provider identify fertility as among the reasons people are getting a loan. SoFi cites IVF as among the reasons why someone would — and does get a loan from the online lender. Anecdotally, its members tell SoFi that IVF can be both emotionally and financially draining.
“It's a big expense that families are often unprepared for, and the idea of taking out high-interest credit card debt or treatment-specific loans with unfavorable rates can add more stress to the situation,” Alan Donner, SoFi’s product marketing director for personal loans, said by email. “Options like personal loans with reasonable rates are a good solution that can help ensure couples are starting off on strong financial footing as they add to grow their family.”