Hebrew Free Loan Society Starts Fertility Fund

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For a family or an individual struggling to get pregnant, the emotions can be overwhelming.

It can bring out feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and failure. When reaching out to get medical help, there is the additional financial burden.

In response, the Hebrew Free Loan Society of Greater Philadelphia has launched a new loan program to help people with this challenge. In September, the organization started a fund to specifically assist with fertility treatment.

Cheryl Barish Erlick | Photo provided

“People have been really grateful and are very excited that this is out there and knowing that there is a way to help them, that someone is out there helping Jewish families as they are looking to create a family,” said Cheryl Barish Erlick, executive director of the society, which provides no-interest loans. “That’s the whole point of this. That’s the driving mission of the work that we do at Hebrew Free Loans, to help our families at a time when they only need a little hand up, a little help along the way to bridge the gap to what they want to do.”

While the loan program can be applied to a variety of treatments, such as genetic testing or medications, it was specifically developed with in vitro fertilization in mind.

For years, the free loan society has received requests for loans to go toward IVF. However, the group’s general personal loans are capped at $7,500, which is not enough to cover IVF. The Be A Family Fertility Fund will be able to provide loans of up to $15,000.

“Fertility treatments are expensive, and we just couldn’t lend them enough to make it worth their while to do that,” co-President Tamar Granor said.

The idea for the loan came out in conversations between Erlick and an anonymous donor. It is the first loan that the society offers that focuses on a specific subset of personal loans. Recipients can pay the loan back in equal payments over four years.

The Hebrew Free Loan Society was founded in 1984. Since then, the organization has provided more than $3 million in loans to members of the Jewish community. Loans have helped with other medical care expenses, moving costs, rent and mortgage payments, tuition and other needs.

To apply for the loan, someone would simply need to reach out to the society — either through its website or by phone. The society will assist the family or individual in determining what exactly is needed and in obtaining a guarantor.

As of yet, no one has received a fertility loan through the fund, Erlick said. The organization has reached out to fertility clinics in the Philadelphia area to let them know the program is available.

Maureen Kelly, a doctor at Society Hill Reproductive Medicine, said the costs of fertility treatment can vary depending on what is needed, but IVF is the most expensive, generally ranging from $10,000 to $12,000. She has seen an increase in the number of insurance companies covering fertility treatment, but many people still struggle to afford it.

Kelly said she would urge anyone struggling to pay for treatment to let her doctor know. Sometimes patients will end treatment without letting a doctor know why, but many fertility clinics can inform patients of resources, such as the Be A Family Fund.

“There are times when someone may stop treatment because of the cost if they don’t have coverage,” Kelly said. “Even if they have partial coverage, sometimes it’s still out of their reach to come up with the funds they need to be able to pursue the recommended treatment.” 

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