Demand for a cost-effective egg freezing service rise as more and more millennial women reach their 30s. But the most pressing issue is, how can women afford this procedure?
Fertility IQ, a digital database for information regarding fertility benefits and treatments, stated that women would spend $15 thousand to $20 thousand per cycle, and in most common situations, they would opt for two cycles.
Among the rising number of women choosing to have their eggs frozen is the 35-year-old CEO of the HER Network, Marika Frumes. She actively put together events that aim to enlighten others about this issue. Frumes says that women always talk about this topic most of the time but only in private. It is because women find it much difficult to admit that they can’t afford something.
Freezing eggs have grown in popularity as more and more women choose to postpone motherhood and wait for the right life partner. In 2016, the average age of women who undergo this procedure was 38 years old. It descended to 35 in the year 2018.
According to the Society for Reproductive Technology, in 2017, 10,936 females have frozen their eggs. Fertility IQ says this market would see 25% growth annually for the next couple of years.
Gina Bartasi, the CEO of Kindbody, mentioned a lot of women, who are professionals, single, and have disposable income, are pursuing to freeze their eggs. The fertility startup surmised that the market for IVF is worth $2.7 billion and egg freezing around $4.3 billion.
Frumes said startups like Kindbody are successful in educating, encouraging discussions, as well as improving the availability of their services by marketing to women from the millennial generation using social media. She added that social media had become the main platform for promoting awareness and information. When people see something on their screens, they will talk about it. Then, they would want to know more about it, Google it, and ask more questions.
Fertility Procedures and Healthcare Coverage
The biggest problem is, most healthcare plans consider egg freezing as an elective procedure. Therefore, they don’t have it in their coverage. According to Fertility IQ, only thirty of the Fortune 500 companies offer benefits which provide coverage for egg freezing. A few of these companies include Facebook, Pinterest, and Uber, who offers coverage for four cycles, and Microsoft, AT&T, and Alphabet, which offers coverage for three cycles.
Renee Albert, the benefits director for Facebook, who has Progyny to administer their fertility benefits, says that the added benefit to respond to the demand from their employees. By providing coverage for four cycles instead of the lump sum, they allowed the patients and their doctors to decide on treatments that have the most desirable result, which is more healthy babies.
Covering treatments for fertility is a good way to retain skills and decrease attrition rates, while more women advance in the chain of command. Most of the women who attended the Kindbody event held in New York said in an interview that they would prefer to stay or switch to an employer who would offer them these types of benefits or have better healthcare coverage.
Cost-Effective Services and Solutions
Kindbody invested in technology so they could provide affordable services. A one-cycle and one-year storage are worth $6 thousand, while medication, as well as blood work, would be an additional cost of up to $5 thousand. The company offers its patients loans that have no interest.
A therapist that has two degrees from an Ivy League, once discovered that her health-care does not cover egg freezing. Kendall Bassard said Kindbody helped her to find a plan for repayment that she can afford.
Other financial companies like Prosper and LendingClub offer personal loans that women can use to freeze their eggs or for any fertility procedures. LendingClub has an average personal loan of $15,895 and an average 10.65% APR. On the other hand, the average personal loan for Prosper is $14 thousand, with an average of 17% APR.
IntegraMed, back by private equity, are also focusing on the millennials. They built a hip and stylish urban New York clinic that features a trendy waiting area and a juice bar. They also have a blood drawing room which has services for video-streaming. The company offers easy and simple financing options via Lending Club, too.
Pitchbook stated that venture capital companies are expressing interest in the market. Earlier this year, they have invested $102 million to fertility startups. They are looking to surpass the amount that they have raised for the whole of 2018, which was $122 million.
Kindbody is just one of the numerous upstarts led by women who have received millions of investments, from venture capitalists who are mostly female, in the last 12 months. They have announced on April 16 that the company was able to reach a total amount of $22 million during a Series A funding that raised $15 million. The company was estimated to be worth $65 million before investments.
Extend Fertility announced that in their Series A funding from Regal Healthcare Capital Partners, a private equity company, they had raised $15 million, last February. And, in October, Future Family, from San Francisco, revealed that they had acquired $10 million in a Series A funding round with the help of Aspect ventures.
Last March, the private equity-backed Inception has partnered with Prelude network, who have facilities across the United States.
CEO TJ Farnsworth of Inception conveyed that the fertility space has garnered lots of attention from the private equity as well as other companies. He added that we could expect a quicker growth rate compared to what we see today as fertility preservations become more popular, widespread across the country, and throughout various patients.
However, some experts in the medical fields caution patients about startups. They say that although they have much innovation and are highly appealing to the public, they only have a limited track record of accomplishments.
Dr. Zaher Merhi, of New Hope Fertility Center, said that the procedure for freezing the eggs is easy. It is the process of thawing the eggs, adding the sperm, making embryos, and getting a woman pregnant, is a lot harder.