When you give birth, your mind might jump ahead to when this baby will have his or her own baby and make you a grandparent.
An Austin company is helping parents and grandparents plan ahead for that moment.
Recognizing the heartache that comes with infertility, Jason Muesse and Eugenie Shea created LifeSpring, an insurance company that allows people to purchase infertility insurance for a child who is 13 or younger.
Muesse says he was at a time in his life when he was watching friends trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully.
“Infertility has a huge impact on your life when you can't afford to pay for it,” he says. “I saw people's personalities change, their finances change, their marriages change.”
He and Shea, who both work in medical malpractice insurance, began looking at how they could offer infertility insurance that would pay for what health insurance isn’t covering.
They worked on it for five years and consulted with the Texas Department of Insurance to figure out how to offer a product that no one else has offered.
They looked at statistics, like how 1 in 8 people trying to get pregnant struggle with infertility. They looked at numbers, like $42,000, the average cost of getting from an infertility diagnosis to a live birth. And they looked at the age at which it becomes statistically unlikely for treatments to result in a birth, after age 37.
LifeSpring offers a $50,000 infertility insurance that can be used if a child or a child’s partner receives a primary infertility diagnosis from a doctor, which is defined as not being able to get pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex. There’s no deductible, and they just have to activate the insurance anytime between their 18th birthday and before turning 36 after being given that infertility diagnosis. They then have a year to use that money for treatments.
The cost is $1,819 for children 7 and younger and $2,099 for children 8 to 13. It can be split into 12 payments. It’s sold online at lifespringins.com.
There are some qualifications. Children can’t have any anatomical abnormalities that would render them sterile. Certain medical treatments, such as some for cancer, will disqualify a child. If a child was born prematurely, parents or grandparents need to wait until the child turns 1 before buying the insurance. The extra time gives doctors time to get a fuller picture of any medical complications that might make fertility impossible.
“We don’t want to take someone’s money when the odds are nothing,” Shea says. “It’s not because we don’t want them to try.”
The reason why the insurance isn’t offered for people older than 13 is really a math problem. The money needs enough time to grow before it gets paid out. “This is where we thought we could help the most amount of people in an affordable range,” Muesse says.
It’s like getting life insurance when you are young versus trying to get it when you are closer to death or already know you have been diagnosed with something that could lead to death.
Muesse says they are still looking at a way to offer it for people closer to the age when they want to start using the insurance but haven’t yet figured out the math that makes it affordable.
Right now it’s only available in Texas, but LifeSpring will be working to expand it to other states in 2020. The policies are secured by Fortegra, a company that backs a variety of insurance products for businesses and consumers.
“This product was so exciting to us,” Shea says. “It is insurance, but it's something bigger than we are.”
She says LifeSpring also has set up a nonprofit, Imagine a Family, to be able to offer people who don’t qualify for the insurance to still get assistance with fertility treatments.
“This is a product that can change the way infertility is addressed in our country,” Muesse says, because families won’t have to decline treatments because of finances.