There’s a ‘looming healthcare crisis for the millennial generation’ — and it’s just getting started

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As mothers start to have babies later, it could create a healthcare crisis. Drew Hallowell / Stringer / Getty Images

People who decide to start their families later are contributing to a “looming healthcare crisis for the millennial generation.”

That’s according to Claire Tomkins, founder and CEO of the startup Future Family told Business Insider.

In the US, women are waiting longer to have children — a trend that’s been increasing happening since the 1970s.

In 2014, the average age of first birth in the US was 26.3, up from 24.9 in 2000, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, for the first time women in their 30s were having more babies than younger mums.

As the millennial generation (currently between the ages of 19 and 36) has these babies later in life, challenges can pop up. As women age, their fertility steadily declines, making it more difficult to conceive or have a healthy pregnancy — which could lead to more families turning to costly treatments.

How trying to have a baby can get expensive fast

Fertility treatment can be incredibly expensive. Some services fall outside the scope of health insurance, and the cost of one cycle of in-vitro fertilization is on average $US23,474 in the US — and it often takes more than one cycle to work. For Tomkins, it cost about $US100,000 to start a family.

As a way to increase the chances of having a baby when they’re ready, many women consider about freezing their eggs. Dr. Lynn Westphal, a professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Stanford and medical adviser to Future Family, who got involved with egg freezing almost 20 years ago to help preserve fertility for women undergoing chemotherapy, told Business Insider in June that she’s seen interest in the procedure change “dramatically” in the last few years, especially among women who are doing it electively.

Some companies have started offering the service as a benefit to women who might be considering the process, even though they have no health issues that would make it medically necessary.

An industry has popped up in recent years to fund these treatments. Future Family’s approach, for instance, is to provide testing, concierge care, and financing options for families. Others offer monthly payments for egg-freezing and IVF packages that have money-back guarantees.

But there are no guarantees that the procedures will pay off. Even if women have their eggs frozen — a process that costs around $US50,000 — there’s a chance they might not need them. And even if they do use them, it’s not a fool-proof insurance policy.

“People talk about ‘egg banking’ as though it’s insurance,” Hilda Bastian, chief editor at PubMed wrote in a November 2016 blog post. “I think both ‘banking’ and “insurance’ are misleading ways to look at this. This language gives an impression of more security than freezing eggs can deliver. And it doesn’t convey the health and emotional risks.”