April 13, 2021 11:04:16 am
All through the pandemic, the team at the Pune-based startup Loop Health was either trying to get medical care for people infected with the coronavirus or answering streams of callers who wanted their anxieties addressed. In the past few weeks, they were also organising mass vaccination programmes. Companies that sell health insurance don’t do these sorts of things — but Loop Health is pushing out a different kind of envelope.
The startup, founded by Mayank Kale and Ryan Singh in 2018, is a health insurance brokerage that also has a set of doctors, a dedicated health advisor, who is available 24×7 for clients, and a health app. This makes Loop Health not only an agency that sells group health insurance to companies but also a medical service provider.
“We had studied different health systems all over the world. In the 1980s in the US, health insurance only covered hospitalisations. As the cost of care was going up — much like in India today — insurance companies decided to invest in prevention and primary care. The idea was to let you have access to doctors at all times. As these doctors keep you healthy and out of the emergency room, it also keeps you from having high-cost claims and procedures,” says Singh. “There is an insurance carrier in California that has a chain of hospitals. They even pay for groceries for low-income folks, so that they can eat fruit and vegetables, because the company’s data shows that this will reduce claims later on,” he adds.
The business model has earned the startup $2.3 million as seed funding from American venture capital, among others. They have 100 companies as clients today, totaling more than 30,000 employees, and expect to grow to two lakh customers by year-end as the healthcare sector is pitched to increase three times due to the pandemic.
Loop Health is also disrupting a common complaint patients have with the medical sector, of inflated bills. “We have done hundreds of patient interviews. One of the things that people say is that surgeons, doctors, or hospital staff ask them is how much insurance they have. If their insurance is for Rs 2 lakh, the bill will come to around Rs 1.5 lakh; if they have Rs 10 lakh insurance, somehow the bill will creep up to Rs 7-9 lakh,” says Kale. Loop’s Medical Advisors help guide patients for the right hospitalisations and avoid unnecessary surgeries. “The medical advisor is a doctor, with whom clients can build a relationship and who is their central point for help. In case of hospitalisation, the advisor leads clients through the options and processes,” says Kale
In the last year, the app saw the volumes of consultations rise by 95 per cent as telemedicine became important. “We have created a much more extended teleconsultation, including video, and extended the set of specialists and doctors. The last stage was helping people with COVID, from providing tests all the way to getting oxygen, ventilator beds and hospital admissions. Having been able to do this is a point of pride for us,” says Singh.
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