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I Don’t Know How I Feel About Glow

I’m certain that you’ve seen it popping up in the news as well; a new-ish app called Glow that helps you pinpoint your fertile days.  It operates in the same manner as the long-standing FertilityFriend: you input data, the program starts to see the pattern, and it helps you to read your fertility signs.  What is newsworthy is that they’ve added a new feature which they’re calling a type of fertility insurance.  Smithsonian reports on how it works:

Couples or women trying to get pregnant pay $50 to the company each month. Then, if they have not become pregnant at the end of 10 months, they receive at least $500 towards infertility treatment services. The money from all the couples who were contributing to the pool is split among those who did not become pregnant, so the more people participate, the more money the couples who don’t conceive will receive.

Unless I’m doing my math incorrectly, you give Glow $500 over 10 months.  If you don’t get pregnant, they give you your $500 back (or, perhaps more if enough people join along AND get pregnant!) so you can pay for one vial of injectable medication.  If you do get pregnant, you’re out $500.  Wait, can we back up again to that if you don’t get pregnant thing?  Do they know anything about fertility clinics?  Do they know how little you can do with $500?  Even in a mandated state with decent insurance, we were still paying several thousand out of pocket.  Our testing was covered down to the obscure thrombophilia panel they tacked onto the normal thrombophilia panel, and we still paid thousands upon thousands of dollars.  If you don’t have coverage, that $500 isn’t going to get you in the stirrups.

And that money is designated solely for fertility treatments.  So if you decide to pursue adoption or not pursue treatments at all, you’re out of luck:

After 11 months, Glow First will pay an accredited infertility clinic (check list) of your choice when you submit proof of your medical costs.

In other words, you need to submit more personal information about yourself to this app-maker in order to be reimbursed.  And after they’ve collected heaps of information from your medical records… they’ll give you enough to pay for an ultrasound or two.  Because even if thousands of people become pregnant, leaving their contributions behind, we’re still talking about a relatively small pool of money to be split amongst the people who have jumped through the hoops and remembered to log their cycle 10 months in a row.

It’s a nice idea and I’m sure the app is great.  I personally am partial to FertilityFriend just because I started there about 12 years ago, but there’s room for others to get in on the telling-you-when-you’re-ovulating game.  I’m just not sure how I feel about Glow First.  It seems like people would be better off paying themselves $50 per month so they’d definitely have $500 in hand at the end of 10 months.  Then they wouldn’t need to pass along their medical information to a third party.  And while they may not hit the jackpot, they can rest assured that they also didn’t gamble with their fertility.  They didn’t wait 10 months just to capitalize on a program, they didn’t have to jump through hoops to get it.  That money is simply back in their pocket, where it belongs.  Because if there is a problem, they’re really going to need it.

What do you think of Glow?  Has anyone tried it yet?


1 Ellen K. { 02.27.14 at 9:33 am }

Fifty dollars per month? Granted, I’m sure I spent that much some months during that first year of TTC, on Robitussin, HPTs, OPKs, and green tea supplements. But $50 as a recurring charge — that’s a significant amount; that’s a utility bill. I really don’t see a lot of couples sitting down together to agree to this expense when they’ve just started TTC, do you? Do most people really think their partner would have said, “Sure, honey, that seems totally reasonable”? In other words, it’s likely to be a hidden or downplayed purchase, which Glow developers must know perfectly well. That’s a problem in itself. The second problem is, as you’ve mentioned, is the $500 for fertility treatments — which is a reimbursement, not a credit. It’s not going to get you very far — that’s like one IUI cycle without injectables and without monitoring. And I would be very wary of the fine print here. Is there an expiration date (it can take several months to get in with an RE, and then a couple of months to complete the full workup)? Does it have to be 11 consecutive months — what if you are traveling during peak fertility days? What if there are known or suspected preexisting conditions — a history of delayed ovulation, PCOS, structural abnormalities that happened to be noted during a routine checkup or other examination or occurred during childbirth? What about miscarriages or chemical pregnancies during that 11 months? I’m not even going to get started on the huge amount of personal information that would be collected here.

I can think of at least a dozen other “what if” scenarios, but these aren’t likely to occur to most of the target audience of new, app-happy, privacy-waiving TTCers. And again, $50/month. Not cool, Glow.

2 Holly E { 02.27.14 at 10:29 am }

NO way… I can’t see this taking off at all! There are waay to many options out there that are less expensive

3 Catwoman73 { 02.27.14 at 10:55 am }

No thank you! I would rather put that $50 per month into a savings account, and keep my private medical information to myself.

I can see the appeal, though. If you figure that a majority of people who are participating will be pregnant by the ten month mark, leaving behind contributions that will be split between those who remain, there could be a tidy profit to be made. In theory, you could technically take home a great deal more than your $500 investment. But it really is a risk, and I don’t gamble.

And I would be very wary of the fine print on this one. It all seems far too benevolent.

4 deathstar { 02.27.14 at 11:13 am }

Really? What will they think of next? How about a virginity app, you pay $50 every month and if you don’t lose it in 10 months, they buy you a prostitute, gender of your choice. I don’t think an app could get anyone pregnant any more than it would get them laid, but what do I know? I recall paying about $40 for the top brand name OPK and about $30 for 2 pregnancy tests (this before the cheapie online versions), so I think this app would only appeal to people who have nothing better to do with their money. Great money maker for the makers of the app though.

5 E { 02.27.14 at 11:56 am }

I’m not sure this is even legal. Companies generally need a license to sell insurance (which they don’t mention anywhere on their website), and what are they doing to protect private health information that they receive as a result of their reimbursement requirements? If I was their lawyer, I would have had a heart attack over this. Also “crowdfunding for babies” = gross.

6 Ana { 02.27.14 at 1:53 pm }

Yeah, they lost me completely at the “send in your medical bills”. To whom? Where? How is it being protected? And do you think maybe truly fertile people won’t buy this app? That people will buy it because they already know or suspect IF and are tempted by the $500. I mean, many fertile women don’t even use OPKs or my fertility friend or any kind of anything. They just have sex “around the right time” and they get pregnant. If you’re looking into an app like this, you probably already know you may need a bit more help…

7 Persnickety { 02.27.14 at 4:06 pm }

Hmm, I do use glow because I have found it easier to use than a lot of the other fertility apps. It’s been pretty good so far.

I saw the glow first stuff when i first started using it. My impression was that it was a pool, that the couples who haven’t gotten pregnant can access. Kind of like early insurance pools- so potentially you do get more than just the $500 back. I didn’t look at it much because you still have to meet certain criteria to be eligible and my guess is that people who have already experienced fertility issues are going to find it difficult.

I saw it as something similar to the shared risk that some IVF clinics in the US have- if you don’t get pregnant in a certain amount of time you get som of your money back/a free cycle. Again haven’t looked at this, because not really in a position to access.

This is reminiscent of old insurance structures or the old funeral clubs- same idea in that all of the members paid in a smallish amount each week/ month with the promise of a payout at a later point ( if a funeral was needed). They had a purpose, but were not always a good value proposition. Funeral Clubs were popular in east end slums at a certain point, from memory, and they were a bit of a rip off, but they were perceived by the users as valuable because it meant that they did get cash when a funeral had to occur.

8 Battynurse { 02.27.14 at 7:05 pm }

Sounds kind of like a scam where someone is looking to make money. Doesn’t sound like anything I would have used other than just the basic app part.

9 Mali { 02.27.14 at 8:31 pm }

$50/month! That’s a lot of money. I’d still use Fertility Friend or TCOYF (which is the software I started with way back when), and spend the $50/month on something to cheer myself up (mags, chocolate, etc) at the end of each month if I wasn’t pregnant! But there will be people who think it is a good deal. Will be interesting to see if FF or TCOYF have responded with apps of their own. (Maybe they have, I’ve never had to look!)

10 April { 02.28.14 at 6:30 am }

Oh hell no. I spent more than $500 for two different HSG tests and Day 3 testing with all of my testing “covered” by insurance. When the clinic coded it as prep for IVF, suddenly it wasn’t covered even though we weren’t pursuing IVF. So I so not think I would be doing Glow at all.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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