Meet Stride Health, an insurance recommendation engine

Steven Loeb · February 5, 2015 · Short URL:

Vator will be highlighting the up-and-coming healthcare companies before Splash Health on Feb. 12th

With Vator Splash Health coming up soon, we've been focusing on different aspects of the healthtech space, including the companies that have raised the most money and  how quickly the space itself has been growing in recent years.

One big part of that involves discovering what the future of healthtech looks like, and the up and coming companies.

So VatorNews reached out to venture capitalists who invest in health companies to find out from them: who are the next generation of health companies, and the ones that will disrupt and shape the space in years to come.

One such company is Stride Health, a health insurance recommendation engine that is  tuned, and tailored, to the life of each individual. It helps patients to keep their doctors, keep their drugs, and get apples-to-apples comparisons of health plans.

I spoke to Stride Health CEO Noah Lang about the company, its mission and his vision for the future of healthcare.

EDITOR'S NOTE: On February 12th, Vator will be holding its first ever Splash Health event in Oakland, where speakers such as Dr. Katrina Firlik, Tom Lee, Founder & CEO of One Medical, and Ryan Howard, Founder & CEO of Practice Fusion, will be talking about the state of the healthtech space, and where they think it is going. (Get your tickets here).

VatorNews: What problem are you trying to solve and how you are trying to solve it?

Noah Lang: Even with recent policy changes, the health insurance industry is still incredibly nontransparent. Confusion over medical costs, doctor networks, and drug formularies exist not only for average Americans, but for the insurance carriers themselves.

At the consumer level, there exists little to no clarity over the true annual cost of coverage (ie: costs that extend beyond the premiums and include doctor visits, prescriptions, etc.). And though hundreds of on and off exchange options exist for each American, the smartest choice is unclear; it’s hard to invest intelligently in something that’s so confusing! Some consumers simply opt to risk an uninsured lifestyle. Others try to make an informed guess, but often pick plans with either too much or too little coverage.

Stride’s goal is to remove these barriers--strange acronyms, unclear costs, risky investments--so more Americans can feel comfortable purchasing the best plan for their individual lifestyles. At a broad level, we’re accomplishing this in two significant ways:

  1. We find plan that will cover their projected medical costs for the year. We take a consumer’s individual profile--involving location, demographic, conditions, and drugs--supplemented with extensive data sets to forecast their care consumption for the year. Our algorithm is then able to pick the plan that will best cover those costs, thus enabling the consumer to invest wisely!

  2. We make it personal. We let our algorithm do all the data crunching so you don’t have to. After entering their information, consumers instantly see a plan recommendation that’s not just based on the aforementioned data; it also takes into account whether or not the user wants family members covered or has a favorite doctor they prefer using. The plan is accompanied by a breakdown of costs everyone can understand. Consumers can view the price of doctor visits and prescriptions and see a clear estimate of what they will likely end up paying for the year.

VN: Who is your average customer and what is a typical use case for Stride?

NL: Stride typically serves freelancers and independent contractors. These customers don’t have employer-sponsored coverage, but they still want affordable health coverage; they want to maintain the freedom of their careers without sacrificing security.

Stride’s usual demographic reflects this freelancer economy. Our customers tend to be young, healthy millennials. Of course, though, we have had customers in their 60’s!

VN: How do you want to change the healthcare space? What is your vision for what it will look like in five to ten years thanks to what Stride is doing?

NL: We want transparency and personalization. We envision a navigable industry where consumers feel comfortable picking and using their health insurance plans. And this doesn’t come just by clarifying the industry’s ambiguous jargon and policies. We believe that for the consumer, understanding the nitty gritty shouldn’t even be necessary.

Because plan recommendations--and all the math involved--will be instantaneous and intelligent, picking insurance will be simple. It’ll be as intuitive as using Priceline to pick a hotel and as customized as relying on Netflix’s TV show recommendations.

Furthermore, we want to create complete doctor transparency. Users should be able to buy plans knowing which doctors they have access to, when they can visit them, and how much they’ll pay for them. They should feel comfortable knowing they’ve purchased the care they need.

VN: How many users do you currently have?

NL: We don’t currently disclose user numbers. However, we recently partnered with some of the nation’s largest players in the freelance workforce -- Uber, TaskRabbit, Postmates to name a few key partners -- in regions that cover 44% of the nation’s population.

VN: Have you raised any money yet  and, if so, from which investors?

NL: We recently disclosed $2.4 million in a seed financing round led by Fidelity Biosciences and NEA. We’re also backed by the Mayo Clinic and Rock Health.

VN: Have you been able to calculate any health benefits to those who use Stride?

NL: We are starting to quantify the savings but it will be a couple weeks before I can share that report.

VN: Is there anything else you feel is important to include about Stride?

NL: We feel it’s important to stick with our consumers year-round. Part of the problem with the insurance industry is the impersonal brevity of its relationships; a consumer picks a plan, and is then left to fend for herself throughout the year. After Open Enrollment ends, we’ll help our consumers understand how to use their plans and suggest ways to make the most of those monthly premiums. We help consumers find ways to save on prescriptions, get directions to their doctor visits, and use their plans in an emergency!

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