Business

Jamaicans showing interest in fertility loan from JMMB Bank

BY CANDIECE KNIGHT
Observer writer

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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Jamaicans who are yearning to become parents are one step closer to making their dream a reality. These Jamaicans have been responding positively to the new loan facility now placed on the market by Jamaica Money Market Brokers Bank (JMMB Bank) to finance fertility treatment services.

The unsecured maternity loan of up to $5 million, which is offered under an agreement between JMMB Bank and Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit (HWFMU), is the first of its kind to be offered in Jamaica, and the bank says the response by the public has thus far been encouraging.

“The bank has begun the loan process for prospective clients and we have received interest from several patients and prospective patients of the HWFMU,” said Moya Leiba-Barnes, general manager, client services, at JMMB Bank.

“The bank has also received enquiries from other patients who are interested in accessing financing for infertility treatment from other medical providers,” she added without sharing the actual number of people who have applied for this unique loan.

Individuals who succeed in acessing the loan have up to five years to repay at an interest rate of 18%, and a processing fee starting at 2%. Leiba-Barnes then indicated that the loan is backed by a creditor life insurance component, to protect the life of the applicant.

The HWFMU confirmed with the Jamaica Observer's Business Observer that they have seen an increase in the number of interested clients since a financial solution has been put on the table.

Dr Vernon DaCosta, director of the unit, said this week that “There's definitely a big interest in fertility services since the loan has been announced, especially for the IVF (in vitro fertilisation), and we definitely expect to see an increase in the number of clients, but it's too early to quantify at this time. People are just going in and trying to make contact to see how feasible it is for them.”

Earlier this year the HWFMU made an appeal to employers, insurers and financial institutions to come on board by designing services that allow Jamaican women to better plan their fertility.

At a recent dinner held with key stakeholders, including an international pharmaceutical provider that identified Jamaica as being advantageously located to benefit from fertility-based medical tourism, Dr Shaun Wynter of the HWFMU underscored the importance of accessibility to fertility treatment, against the backdrop of the global increase in infertility.

“Most of our clients are pretty ordinary people. Most couples are in their early 30s, just bought their houses and now it's time for a baby — and it's not happening. They don't have any disposable income to put towards this, so it becomes an issue,” he said.

The 'all-inclusive' cost of one round of (IVF) at the HWFMU is approximately US $7,500, a cost which they claim is the best regionally, but Dr Wynter pointed out that that amount is still too high for young families, who are focused on achieving other life goals.

DaCosta then stated that the unit is open to partnering with other financial entities to provide an option for Jamaicans who need medical assistance to start their families.

“We invited them (financial entities) to a meeting [earlier this year], and we welcome them. We would really like for the insurance companies to come on board, too.”


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