A new report released from the Hastings Center found that more and more lenders are specializing in loans for fertility treatments. And while it means more and more couples will able to afford the treatments, the Hastings Center Report journal notes that the increase in lenders has some concerned that doctors are only marketing the lenders they are affiliated with — without keeping the couples needs in mind.
In the past, "fertility loans" (as they're called) were created in response to the high cost of fertility procedures, which at the time included IVF and donor eggs. Though costs still remain a major obstacle for many, the loans emerged as a way to bridge the gap between soaring costs and couples with insufficient insurance. But in 2013, here's where it gets sticky: There's no law or regulation that assures that patiences receive complete information about their financing and physicians and clinics are not required to disclose their financial ties to lenders. Think it sounds a little fishy?
Alisa Von Hagel, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the author of the report said that, "For individuals or couples willing to do whatever it takes to produce a child, the availability and promotion of these loans may encourage interventions that hold little chance at success, exacerbating the anguish of infertility. The question thus arises whether this better serves to enhance the reproductive autonomy of patients or the profit margins of fertility clinics and physicians."
She goes on to say that, "In facilitating the process to obtain credit and, in some instances, benefiting financially through equity ownership in private lending firms, participating physicians declare this a 'win-win situation' with no clear conflict of interest. Failing to evaluate and respond to the ethical concerns created by the loans may lead to a decline in the public's estimation of this medical field, particularly if apparent abuses of patient trust emerge." Her recommendation? Ask an ethics board to review the practices in place now and to assess the financial ties between doctors and lenders. She writes that assessing what's in place and how it's affecting couples who really need the money, the ethics board can look forward to "an honest evaluation of the loans and their genuine benefit."
Do you think that "fertility loans" need to be federally regulated to protect couples and their finances?