Feb 14, 2022 - Health

A startup for starting a family

Illustration of a baby stroller with quarters for wheels.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

On this day of love, Gaia is debuting its personalized in-vitro fertilization (IVF) insurance product on the Lloyds of London market and announcing a fresh round of $20 million in Series A funding led by Atomico, the company's founder tells Axios.

Why it matters: Fertility treatment is a heavily opaque sector of the health care industry that's just as convoluted as it is inequitable. Did we mention how expensive it is?

Details: The model is built on data from the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority and private clinics.

  • That represents a total of more than a million IVF records dating back to 1991 from roughly 500,000 women, says Nader AlSalim, founder and CEO of Gaia.

Yes, but: Data on the factors that contribute to infertility is extremely narrow, which can limit the accuracy of any prediction tool. For instance:

  • Most of the data on IVF cycles is currently limited to white people in Western European countries.
  • The data that does exist is almost entirely sourced from women — we lack quality data on several male infertility factors include sperm DNA degradation.

Context: Several fertility companies in the U.S. offer risk-sharing models, including Spring Fertility and Shady Grove Fertility. But it's rare to see IVF insurance offered as a stand-alone product, entrepreneurs and industry observers tell Axios.

One bittersweet thing: AlSalim created Gaia after he and his wife went through five rounds of IVF across three different clinics in two countries.

  • The process cost a total of roughly $68,000.
  • And "we’re one of the few to have something to show for it — a child," AlSalim tells Axios.

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