Would it blow your mind if only five startup health plans interested in Medicare Advantage (MA) have collectively raised over $3.9 billion in private funding to-date? Well, readers, that is the reality. Now I know there are some skeptics out in the healthcare ecosystem, so I’m here to break down some of the investment thesis. Not going to necessarily defend, but explain some reasons why you should love and hate these investments. Let’s start with who raised these mind-boggling sums of money. The five startups are Oscar Health, Bright Health, Clover Health, Devoted Health, and Alignment Healthcare.
Oscar Health has raised $1.3 billion
Bright Health has raised $1.1 billion
Clover Health has raised $925 million
Devoted Health has raised $362 million
Alignment Healthcare has raised $240 million
I think it’s safe to say that the MA insurance market (also known as Medicare Part C) has captured the imagination of the venture capital and private equity community. The changing demographic trends of an aging baby boomer population, the increased selection of MA plans versus traditional Medicare fee-for-service (FFS), and the opportunity of technology-first MA startup plans to better reduce administrative fees (“Administrative Loss Ratio” or “ALR”) and control medical spend (“Medical Loss Ratio” or “MLR”) seems too good to pass up. If you were going to start a health plan, of all the lines of business you could be focused on, MA has highest profit margins, growing population, and better potential to impact patient spend and manage chronic diseases. It is certainly harder than writing the previous statement, but there are some real benefits versus the traditional commercial or Medicaid managed care.
Vivek Garipalli, CEO and Co-Founder of Clover Health initially set out trying to create a high-tech healthcare company aimed at improving clinical decision making, while leveraging the best of tech and data science in the process. Sounds about right for a guy who previously founded a health system (CarePoint Health), so…how did he end up with a high-tech Medicare Advantage plan instead? Isn’t clinical disruption hard enough? In this very candid chat about the larger issues thwarting tech and the healthcare business model, Vivek explains how he HAD to turn Clover into a health plan in order to get “reliable access” to the longitudinal set of information that would truly help patients and providers achieve better health outcomes. Can this kind of thinking ever be applied to the under 65 market? How does Clover perpetuate this model? Founded in 2012, this late-stage startup has big plans for scaling up and they’re centered on winning over physicians.
Filmed at the HIMSS Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA in September 2019.
Facebook is releasing an EMR? Jim Cramer is going to work at Epic? April Fools! On today’s actual Health in 2 Point 00 Episode 76, Jess asks me about the follow up from Health Datapalooza, which ended with the government saying they will be changing the world and that everyone should join them in their initiative to innovate digital health. AHRQ & CMMI ran digital health challenges, and CMMI will be doing an AI challenge for $1 million for startups in the space. Speaking of the government, Seema Verma was in the news for her PR spending and as I said “Evil Twin Seema” and “Good Seema” are joined at the hip and they should “not screw around on the PR front”. In other news, MountSinai launched a digital health institute to develop advances in artificial intelligence and other emerging health care technologies spaces. Clover Health laid off a ton of people, and according to me, they are starting to get serious because running a Medicare Advantage plan is hard work — Matthew Holt
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, there appears to be money falling from the sky… There’s been a lot of funding going on this week. In this episode, Jess asks me about Livongo acquiring myStrength, which provides digital behavioral health solutions; Medicare Advantage startup Clover Health’s $500 million raise; real-world data analytics platform Aetion’s $27 million raise; men’s wellness company Hims’ $100 million raise; and urine analysis company Healthy.io’s $18 million raise. Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s big preview episode of HIMSS.—Matthew Holt.