Why I Started HealthNetwork – The First Truly Independent Health Insurance Marketplace

Health Insurance

June 24, 2015

Why I Started HealthNetwork

I started HealthNetwork out of necessity. And yesterday’s positive Supreme Court ruling supporting Obama Care, clears any confusion in the market so that we can move faster.

In 2010, I truly believed the Affordable Care Act was going to force a revolution in the healthcare industry. After all, it was the inequality in pricing, coverage and experience that brought healthcare reform in the first place.

However, after the first open enrollment period in 2013, it was pretty clear we were going to see “business as usual” before things got better – including a lack of transparency in how plans were sold and the same reselling of personal health information. All for one simple reason: Consumers’ private health information is one of the most valuable and lucrative parts of the health insurance food chain. Despite the new ban on refusing anyone health insurance based on pre-existing conditions, the way plans are marketed, is still focused on reaching the healthiest candidates, resulting in misleading requirements for personal information.

Respect for private personal health information also gives way to profits: typically, when a person submits a lead form for health insurance, their health information is sold by data brokers many times on the open market, without their knowledge.  This practice creates a flurry of unwanted solicitations and confusion for consumers, and forces brokers to “dial for dollars” to compete, rather than spend time on high quality sales calls.  With so many individuals now buying health insurance on their own – without the benefit of savvy HR departments – there is a great need for professional expertise from an agent or broker to navigate through incredibly complex options. Yet, there is a lack of integration of agents and brokers with current private and government marketplaces. More importantly, there’s a lack of trust from the consumer towards agents that needs to be rebuilt.

All of this has created an incredibly inefficient marketplace.

We took a hard look at the big problems facing the industry. How were they slowing down progress? How could we solve them?

  1. 44 million uninsured must now get insurance, by law. How could we use technology to scale a workable solution that could handle a massive influx of people in a very short time period?
  2. Lead-gen companies are cherry-picking the “healthiest” leads. Rather than skim the cream off the top, changes brought about by the ACA actually made it a better business practice to serve a broader market. How could we efficiently serve all the people looking for plans, regardless of health history? What if there was an easy way for consumers to find the right plans based on their personal health needs and budgets, while completely removing any marketing to circumvent cherry-picking leads for pre-existing conditions? Would it be a more efficient marketplace?
  3. Rampant re-selling of health leads: Could we create a network of pre-qualified brokers and agents who would agree to put consumers first — and never resell consumers’ private information? What would happen if we started thinking less about intent “as a lead opportunity” and focused instead on customer acquisition and retention through real business practices built on a “positive consumer experience?” Could we achieve a higher quality of sales calls if we increased our call thresholds to double the industry average?

The only way to answer these questions, ultimately, was to build HealthNetwork.  We’re now on our way towards launching a truly independent health insurance marketplace that’s completely unbiased and 100% focused on putting people first. How do we know we’re on track with improving efficiency for the market? All of our partners are already telling us we’re their highest converting partner.

HealthNetwork has become our #1 marketing partner both in volume and in conversions.
Tripp Sherrod, COO, Salud California and Exchange.

HealthNetwork has consistently under-promised and over-delivered. They’re unapologetically consumer focused and the best kept secret in healthcare marketing, period.
Mike Z. Stahl SVP & Chief Marketing Officer, HealthMarkets

We’re thrilled to be taking the next step — with the launch of our independent marketplace for consumers this September. Doing well by doing good never felt better. Let’s see how fast we can fix shopping for healthcare.

Currently in beta with 15 million health care shoppers visiting its network of websites annually, HealthNetwork is building an independent health insurance marketplace. The company plans to launch its consumer site this September.