App helps consumers choose health insurance
Stacy M. Brown | 2/3/2015, 6 a.m.
A team of young entrepreneurs is offering a different approach to the insurance and health care market place from what they said is a completely different perspective.
Ruken Oral, one of the founders of the shop insurance app, xTeros, says the program not only introduces a new way to shop for health insurance, but it changes the focus from balancing low premiums versus high deductibles, to a focus on knowing overall out-of-pocket costs before an individual makes a purchase.
“Brokers and the state and federal exchanges sell insurance as if they were selling a used car. Plans are sold based on how big a monthly payment you can make,” said Oral, a 24-year-old self-described beauty nerd. “This approach benefits the insurance industry because xTeros turns the actuarial science around in favor of the consumer, by looking at the consumer’s actual health expenses and then applying those expenses to all available plans. This allows you to see your out-of-pocket costs per plan.”
She also says that because insurance plans are designed to confuse the consumer, regardless of where you purchase the plan, the xTeros app cuts through the confusion and helps consumers know their options and the impact that each plan will have on their pocket book each month.
The free web app analyzes health plans across all exchanges and eHealth, the largest online insurance broker, to help users and it shows plans based on their actual health expenses, rather than lowest monthly premium.
“Our initial plan was to quietly release individual apps without fanfare, while we focused on delivering a mature suite of tools [later] in 2015,” William Wynn, the CEO of the Bethesda-based company, said in a release.
“Traffic to our Shop Insurance app has been far beyond what we could have hoped from a stealth launch. It is obvious that the app successfully addresses a real need,” he said, adding that it was his idea to start the company in 2012 to help frustrated consumers.
A serial tech entrepreneur, Wynn said he’s always been passionate about finding a means of helping others overcome the frustration of shopping for health insurance and managing routine medical costs.
The privately held xTeros continues to build a consumer community around web apps that provide price-transparency and shopping tools to the consumer, Wynn said.
Primarily, the company focuses on two market segments, healthy individuals between 18 and 30 years old and those with families between the ages of 30 and 64 whose monthly insurance expense can exceed rent or mortgage costs, according to Oral.
“We have, in our system, all possible health plan data available in the nation. It took our team almost two years to gather and perfect the data so that our tool can provide accurate plans for the user,” she said. “We also assemble drug pricing, drug formulary and drug efficacy information. This data is combined with statistical databases we have developed to help guide users in understanding their health care options.”
For more information about the app, visit www.xTeros.com.