July 7, 2015

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing areas for the online lending industry. About 43 million Americans have overdue medical debt on their credit reports and half of all overdue debt is from medical expenses. Clearly, this is an area where people need more options to be able to afford the care they need. That’s a big reason why Prosper Marketplace acquired American Healthcare Lending, now Prosper Healthcare Lending, earlier this year.

To learn more about the economics of elective procedures — and how people are financing them — we decided to drill down into one particular elective procedure that is becoming more popular than ever before: fertility treatments. More than 7.4 million women in the U.S. have had them, with 175,000 procedures in 2013 alone. They cost an average of $12,400 per cycle. We commissioned Market Cube to do a survey to try to find out more about the assisted reproduction process, what barriers women face in getting them, how they pay for them and what the financial impact is given that only 15 states require coverage for infertility treatments. What we found was pretty compelling. Some of the findings include:

  • The financial impacts outweigh the health or emotional concerns when seeking treatment; one-third delayed treatment for financial reasons
  • More than 70 percent incurred some degree of debt from fertility treatments; nearly half of those incurred more than $10,000 in debt
  • Nearly 30 percent used credit cards; close to half of those used credit cards as the primary payment method
  • Fewer than half of the respondents relied on health insurance to pay for treatments
  • Less than 30 percent used insurance as the primary payment method
  • Only 2.3 percent used peer-to-peer lending as a payment method
  • 84 percent underwent at least two cycles of In vitro fertilization

Insurance and credit cards don’t have to be the only options for these treatments or any other elective or necessary medical procedures. Loans through marketplace lenders offer competitive interest rates
for people with good credit. The process is convenient and people can get credit within days, which means less stress and worry for patients.

At Prosper today, we find that many of our borrowers come to us for debt consolidation, but other use cases are growing quickly, medical being one of those. We believe marketplace lending can offer people an easier and smarter way to pay for treatments and free up women to focus on family planning instead of finances.