Ethical concerns about financing fertility treatments

Submitted by Shelby D Burns Mon 12/16/2013

Belly There are ethical concerns about the increase in the number of lenders specializing in loans for fertility treatments. While they enable more people to afford the treatments, doctors are marketing those loans and some of the doctor have financial ties to the lenders.

Loans meet demand, but what if your doctor is also profiting?

The emergence of fertility loans is a response to demand from prospective parents who need a way to pay for the high cost of fertility treatments. The cost is the main obstacle to obtaining assisted reproduction in the US as a result of insufficient or limited insurance policies. “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,” writes Alisa Von Hagel, an assistant professor political science at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Enhancing experience of patient or profit margin for clinic?

There is law that assures patients receive complete information about their financing. Doctors and clinics are not required to disclose their relationship with lenders. “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,” writes Von Hagel. “The question thus arises whether this better serves to enhance the reproductive autonomy of patients or the profit margins of fertility clinics and physicians.”

Threatening the trust relationship with doctors

Marketing fertility loans poses ethical risks to the medical profession, potentially weakening patients’ trust in fertility specialists. “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.”

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