Y Combinator-Backed CareLedger Aims To Provide Free Medical Care To Employees

Digital health startup CareLedger launched out of Y Combinator today to provide the workers of the world with free, quality medical care.

That’s no small feat. The U.S. has one of the most expensive and least functional medical systems in the world, toppling every other country by thousands of dollars. The U.S. also ranks lower on health outcomes and quality, according to a survey from International Health Policy.

There are plenty of organizations working toward lowering health care costs. YC alumni SimplyInsured aims to reduce medical expenditures by analyzing thousands of insurance plans and coming up with the best rate for company employees. Oscar Health claims to provide free services after a plan’s out-of-pocket max. However, neither promise free, quality health care.

CareLedger uses a slightly different approach with cost comparisons for highly recommended facilities. The idea is to find the best service with the lowest price under an employer’s health insurance coverage and then offer those recommendations to its workers.

The employer doesn’t actually pay us unless we lower the cost. Oliver Takach, CareLedger
A colonoscopy could range from $10,000 to $1,500, for example. CareLedger finds that doctor with good ratings willing to charge closer to the $1,500 range, or within the employer’s insurance limit. The promise is this will give workers free medical help – including no deductibles, co-pays or coinsurance payments.

CareLedger works by choosing a physician from the startup’s list, based on your location or convenience and then scheduling a visit for that procedure. CareLedger doesn’t send a bill after and all medical help is supposed to be free to the patient.


From Left to Right: Nik Swain, Oliver Takach, Klaus Mergener

The idea sounds unbelievable – free, quality health care for employees. However, Walmart, the “always low prices” superstore chain, attempts to provide low priced health care and free services to employees in much the same way. Say what you will about the big box store and it’s employee practices, it supports preventive medicine coverage and up to $1000 in medical expenses for its workers.

GE and Lowe’s also do this under the so-called Centers of Excellence, which provide coverage for select surgeries such as hip and knee replacements.

“We like to think of CareLedger as doing Center of Excellence but without travel and for more procedures and tests,” co-founder Oliver Takach told TechCrunch.

CareLedger still gets paid on these free procedures, but the employer only pays the startup when the startup is able to lower the cost to a point that procedures are free to the employee. This saves both the employee’s wallet and potentially expensive overhead for the employer.

“You have an average price, a set price in a geography for each procedure and then you have our price, the one that you actually pay for. Whatever that difference is, we make a percentage of that difference,” Takach said. “The employer doesn’t actually pay us unless we lower the cost.”

CareLedger claims to save up to 50 percent on average, on over 600 procedures and tests.