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Patients can check symptoms for free, then pay per session, or a subscription, to speak to a doctor
The way we pay for our healthcare hasn't changed much in a pretty long time: when our doctor appointment is done, we hand our insurance card to the receptionist and then we wait weeks for months for a bill to arrive. There's still a lack of transparency, making it so that we don't actually know what we're going to pay for the services that were provided; tt's a terribly inefficient system, and also one that makes care prohibitively expensive, especially for people who don't have insurance.
Luckily, a new healthcare model has been emerging, one that cuts out insurance, allowing patients to pay for their out of pocket, often with a flat monthly subscription rate to access care. That's the model now being offered by companies like Hims & Hers and Ro.
(On July 14, Vator will be holding an event centered around this topic, specifically in regards to mental health, featuring Bind, BetterHelp, and JustAnswer. Register and get tickets here)
One of the biggest startups in the healthcare system to deploy a patient-centered model is K Health: the company uses AI and machine learning to allow users to look up their symptoms, and then see how doctors diagnose and treat similar people with similar symptoms, for free on its app.
Here's how it works: users first chat with an AI that has been trained on a dataset from billions of anonymized clinical data points, taking into account a user's gender, age, acute symptoms, and other biomarkers, to accurately show users how other people like them dealt with symptoms and conditions. That can include anything from mental health to back pain, headaches, abdominal pain, chest pain, rashes, fatigue, STDs and bladder infections, among numerous others.
If it is determined that patient does need to speak to a doctor, they then pay for that appointment in one of two ways: either per session, which costs $19, or they can pay a $27 subscription fee, which lasts for three months and also includes unlimited follow-up and remote visits.
The subscription also includes unlimited visits for children aged 3 and up; in January of this year, K Health unveiled its pediatrics solution, called K for Parents, which includes a free symptom checker, and the ability for families to learn how doctors treated children with similar conditions, as well as access to pediatric care as part of a K Health membership.
In addition, the company also offers mental health services, which is separate from its primary care membership; patients pay $19 a month to access this care.
K Health now has over 4 million users and has facilitated more than 7.3 million health dialogues on the platform.
Not taking insurance is how it is able to keep its prices so low, as patients are able to "avoid the costs most insurance plans charge for primary care visits, such as copays, hidden fees, and high deductibles," the company wrote in a blog post.
"We’ve created efficient ways to bring the cost of healthcare way down and make quality care accessible to everyone. This includes standardizing pricing so you don’t need to stress over unknown insurance costs, and using technology and AI to speed and smarten up the process of seeing a doctor," said K Health.
"Our prices are less than other telemedicine and in-person providers. That’s because we charge straightforward fees, regardless of your condition or treatment, or if you have insurance or not. This lowers the amount of people involved, in turn lowering the costs associated with billing, calculating, and negotiating prices."
Since its founding in 2016, the New York-based K Health has raised $273.3 million in venture funding.
It most recently raised a $132 million Series E round of funding, led by GGV Capital and Valor Equity Partners. Other investors include Kaiser Permanente pension fund, LTS Investments, 14W, Max Ventures, Pico Partners, Marcy Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners and BoxGroup. The round valued the company at $1.4 billion.
(Image source: khealth.com)
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