No matter how healthy you are, health insurance still has the uncanny ability to give you a headache.
First there are the bills, which always seem way steeper than you were expecting. Then there are the non-bills that look a whole lot like bills, which may lead you to assume those envelopes that hold real bills are non-bills, too (cue creepy phone calls from credit collectors). Oh, and good luck checking those bills to make sure your insurance is actually paying for everything it’s supposed to — and that the doctor is charging the correct rate.
It doesn’t have to be this way. At least, I really hope it doesn’t. And a startup called Cake Health might be the answer.
The startup, which I first wrote about back in May, is hoping to become the ‘Mint for Health Insurance‘. At the time it was in a limited private beta, and now, at the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield, Cake is opening to the public. Oh, and the TC Disrupt Judges love it.
To get started on the service, users are first prompted to enter the credentials for their health insurance account — the company says it supports the top healthcare providers, covering some 150 million Americans. After entering your login, the service will pull in all of the key data: how much you’ve paid out-of-pocket this year, how much your insurance has covered, how much of your deductible is paid, and so on.
It’ll also look at the benefits your plan offers, giving you reminders to use any benefits that you might forget about (like a yearly eye exam, or dental checkups, for example).
Oh, and the site also has a feature that addresses the bill headaches mentioned earlier. Namely, it’ll let you take a snapshot of your bills, and your ‘non-bills’, to compare what you’re being billed, and what your insurance is paying. It’ll even tell you if you should negotiate with your doctor/hospital over how much you’ve been charged (the company has told me that there are actually a surprising number of errors when it comes to these bills, as they are typically created manually).
Finally, the service is also offering health insurance recommendations, drawing from 13,000 plans to recommend the ones best suited to your needs and price rnage (it’s like Mint and BillShrink in this regard).
As I wrote when I first saw the service, the biggest obstacles facing Cake Health are the fragmented healthcare industry, and earning users’ trust. Cofounder Andy Brett (who, disclosure, was formerly an engineer at TechCrunch), says that the company has developed scraping techniques that help it quickly process information from many providers, even if they don’t have a structured API. As for the latter issue, there will likely be some people who are averse to handing over their data to a startup (I’d argue that healthcare information is even more sensitive than financial data). But there are also plenty of people (probably a large majority) who won’t be especially worried, and the company says it’s taking security seriously.
BG: I think this is Mint for this space. I love it. Best presentation so far.
TC: I love this, it’s brilliant and needed. How difficult is it to upload all my information. This model sems to work well if I invest a lot of energy into the inputs.
A: We work hard to reduce the amount of friction that a user would have signing up. We’ve built the technology on the backend to pull in the data no matter what format you find it in.
TC: I think you need workarounds, I don’t know my login information.
SM: I wonder how you’re going to scale; how do you get people beyond early adopter?
A: First answer is how do you get beyond early adopters… anyone’s documents, HR summary, your EOBs, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not tech savvy, you get online. To scale, getting the word out.. employers are helping with distribution.
Everyone loves it.