Home U.S 'Buy now pay later' IVF insurance company being plugged on Instagram

'Buy now pay later' IVF insurance company being plugged on Instagram

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‘Buy now pay later’ IVF insurance company being plugged on Instagram could leave patients with debts they cannot afford to repay, fear fertility experts

  • Instagram influencers have been plugging IVF payment deals on the internet  
  • Would-be parents are loaned money for the cost of the fertility treatment 
  • Individual rounds of treatment can cost up to £10,000 according to experts 


Fertility experts have raised fears over an IVF insurance company being plugged by so-called influencers online.

Start-up firm Gaia, which was founded by a former Goldman Sachs banker, effectively lends would-be parents most of the cost of the treatment until they have a baby.

But experts worry the financial service, which has been plugged on Instagram, is reminiscent of a ‘buy now pay later’ (BNPL) deal and fear patients could be left with debts they cannot afford to repay. IVF can cost up to £10,000 for a round of treatment.

Fertility experts have raised fears over an IVF insurance company being plugged by so-called influencers online

Fertility experts have raised fears over an IVF insurance company being plugged by so-called influencers online

Start-up firm Gaia, which was founded by a former Goldman Sachs banker, effectively lends would-be parents most of the cost of the treatment until they have a baby

The business has been backed with millions of pounds from venture capital firms – including £14.75million from investment giant Atomico, which has also put money into BNPL firm Klarna. Gaia strongly denies it is a BNPL scheme.

The firm uses an algorithm to predict how many rounds a couple is likely to need to have a baby and underwrites the policy. It then charges them an upfront fee ahead of every treatment cycle which is worth 25 per cent of the cost. If a couple are unsuccessful in the rounds predicted by Gaia, they will not have to pay any more than the initial 25 per cent fee.

Those that do have a baby will repay the rest of the cost over a year at 0 per cent interest – with monthly payments starting at £100. They have to pay the cost of every round it took for them to conceive. The maximum number of cycles they cover is six.

According to Gaia’s website, couples have the option to ‘refinance’ their deal at the end of the 12 months, with the plan capped at five years. Gaia did not reveal how much interest it would then charge.

However, the company points out it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and is working with specialist insurance marketplace Lloyd’s of London.

Women under 40 can have three cycles of IVF treatment for free on the NHS so long as they meet the criteria. But a ‘postcode lottery’ means not all women qualify for help – leaving them with no choice but to go private.

The business has been backed with millions of pounds from venture capital firms ¿ including £14.75million from investment giant Atomico, which has also put money into BNPL firm Klarna. Gaia strongly denies it is a BNPL scheme

The business has been backed with millions of pounds from venture capital firms – including £14.75million from investment giant Atomico, which has also put money into BNPL firm Klarna. Gaia strongly denies it is a BNPL scheme

Similar products already exist on the market but Gaia is thought to be the UK’s first IVF insurance product that uses underwriters to assess a couple’s chances of success and offer them a personalised financial package.

The plan can be used at any clinic registered by regulator the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Katherine O’Brien, of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service charity, said: ‘This feels a lot like a buy now pay later deal.

‘When couples are going through IVF, they are at their most vulnerable and desperate. If they can’t afford to pay the full amount upfront, is it ethical to be offering them what is effectively a loan?’

Gaia was founded in 2019 by Nader AlSalim, 39, after he and his wife spent £50,000 trying to conceive. At the time, he was working for Goldman Sachs while his wife was a product manager at Burberry.

Paid-for adverts from Gaia have begun popping up on social media. Fertility campaigner Amber Izzo, who struggled to conceive with her partner, told her 11,700 Instagram followers: ‘I was so happy to come across Gaia so people like me no longer have to worry about how they’re going to fund their IVF.’

The post was marked as a ‘paid partnership with Gaia’. She said the firm offers a ‘lifeline’ to struggling couples.

The company’s chief operating officer Ines Cheaib said: ‘We are a FCA regulated entity and had to pass rigorous conduct committees. Before onboarding any patient, we perform affordability and credit checks.’

Gaia strongly refutes it is a BNPL scheme and said it is an insurance product. It added it only accepts patients who have more than a 75 per cent chance of successful conception.

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