Shopping for health insurance is about as fun as a pap smear. That’s assuming, of course, that you actually need health insurance--as in, you're not a 20-something in perfect health, and then it’s as fun as a pap smear that you’re paying for out-of-pocket. Healthcare is the big topic of conversation these days as the Supreme Court gears up to decide on the Affordable Care Act. If it’s deemed constitutional—or, more specifically, if the individual mandate requiring every American adult to buy health insurance is deemed constitutional—we could be looking at a huge influx of consumers moving in to buy health insurance. That means that policy comparison sites like GoHealthInsurance.com could be poised to profit off of the large number of people looking for the ideal policy for them.
The company behind GoHealthInsurance.com, GoHealth, announced Tuesday morning that it has raised $50 million in an equity investment Norwest Equity Partners.
Founded in 2001 as Norvax, the company launched the health insurance quote engine known as GoHealthInsurance.com, which allows users to plug in bits of basic information, like their zip code, age, sex, and whether or not they smoke, and retrieve different price quotes and policies. (Now I’m going to be the obnoxious bleeding heart that points out that women pay $1 billion more for health insurance in the U.S. than men do. I was fully prepared to get all riled up about being a 28-year-old non-smoking female and having to pay 31% more than a 60-year-old smoking male for the equivalent policy, but the site didn’t turn up quite as dramatic a disparity. Probably because California is one of the few states that bans gender rating, but I think it's time to put my soap box away.)
The site also automatically opens a customer service chat window as soon as you open a policy page, so you can ask questions on the spot.
Norvax eventually changed its name to GoHealth, which now works with over 100 health insurance carriers and has been the platform through which 30 million consumers have shopped for and purchased health insurance. Co-founder and President Brandon Cruz told me that the site is now approaching one million customers per month.
“As a technology company in the health insurance industry, we’re ready to help consumers find and buy the right coverage no matter what the Supreme Court decides,” said Cruz when I asked him about how the Affordable Care Act might impact business. “If they uphold the law, we are prepared to help all the new consumers who will flood the marketplace through GoHealth. If the individual mandate is repealed, we’ll continue to help find ways to deliver affordable and quality health insurance products to consumers.”
The company plans to use the new funds to rapidly accelerate growth. Cruz says that the financing won’t change the company’s business strategy. It will just springboard its growth.