Prevalence and performance of private equity-affiliated fertility practices in the United States

Nearly one-third of annual fertility cycles are performed at private equity-affiliated practices. Private equity affiliation was significantly associated with minor differences in clinical services, but not in in vitro fertilization success rates.

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VOLUME 117, ISSUE 1, P124-130

Authors:

Alexander Borsa, B.A.. Joseph Dov Bruch, Ph.D.

Abstract:

Objective

To quantify the proportion of annual assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles performed at private equity-affiliated fertility practices and to test for differences in services and success rates between private equity-affiliated and nonaffiliated practices.


Design

Cross-sectional analysis of national data set.


Setting

Not applicable.


Patient(s)

None.


Intervention(s)

Not applicable.


Main Outcome Measure(s)

The primary outcome measures were the volume of ART cycles performed, the percentage of retrievals resulting in live births, and the percentage of transfers resulting in live births. The secondary outcomes included the median income of the practice location, the use of preimplantation genetic testing, the clinical service availability, and the patient reasons for seeking treatment.


Result(s)

Of the practices listed on the Centers for Disease Control’s 2018 Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report, 14.7% had a private equity affiliation. Of the 305,883 ART cycles performed in 2018, 29.3% (89,535) occurred at private equity-affiliated practices. Patients at private equity-affiliated practices were 6.75% (95% confidence interval [CI], −10.15%, −3.36%) less likely to initiate a cycle due to male factor infertility, and 10.60% (95% CI, 3.49, 17.76) more likely to use preimplantation genetic testing before embryo transfer. No statistically significant differences were found in success rates among women aged <35 years. The average median household income (standard error) in zip codes with private equity-affiliated practices compared with nonaffiliated practices was $83,610 ($35,990) and $72,161 ($32,314), respectively.


Conclusion(s)

A major portion of fertility practices in the United States are private equity-affiliated, and these practices perform an even greater portion of ART cycles in the United States each year. Fertility appears to be the medical specialty with the greatest market share owned by private equity. Our findings corroborate preliminary research, which forecasts the increasing involvement and consolidation by private equity in fertility. Future research should continue monitoring for differences in outcomes, financing, case mix, service use, and accessibility.

Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.