According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, over one-third of Millennials and Gen- Xers get their health insurance through their employer. But people don’t tend to rave about their insurance coverage – the average Net Promoter Score of legacy health insurance varies, but it sits around 50, which is average.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Angle Health co-founder and CEO Ty Wang about how the company is redefining expectations for healthcare coverage and how the newer entrant to the employer-sponsored health insurance space is setting itself apart from legacy players. Read on to learn more about how the company is redefining expectations thanks to digitization, customization, and transparency.
Gary Drenik: What was the initial inspiration for Angle Health?
Ty Wang: I grew up in a lower-middle-income household with two immigrant parents. They worked multiple blue-collar service jobs while also managing chronic illnesses and couldn’t afford to take time off work to care for their own health while providing for our family. Today, we have many more convenient ways of accessing healthcare, like telehealth, digital chronic disease management programs, and behavioral health services. However, many of these services are still unknown and inaccessible to the majority of people who could benefit from them most because they aren’t covered by traditional employer-sponsored health insurance. Instead, employers purchase many clinical digital health and telemedicine services directly and independently of health insurance, and they live outside of core care coordination through a health plan.
Seeing the insurance plan that I’d been offered as an engineer when I worked at Palantir, I began to grasp the discrepancies in employer-sponsored insurance. Tech companies can afford this top-notch healthcare, but it’s largely inaccessible to most people – think professions like teachers, mechanics, restaurateurs, or small business owners.
We knew that this economic divide existed, and we had an idea of how we’d want to address this problem, but we didn’t understand why anyone else had not solved this issue until we experienced the limitations of legacy tech infrastructure and witnessed the misaligned incentives of the healthcare industry. We realized that in order to deliver a truly proactive and engaging healthcare experience, we needed to rebuild the health plan stack—both technology and operations—from the ground up.
By making online health services more accessible through employer-sponsored healthcare, my co-founder and I realized that Angle Health could ensure that employees wouldn’t have to call in sick for a routine appointment, where they’d lose out on income. It is also making sure that people are taking better care of their health and making preventative care more accessible.
Drenik: Healthcare is dominated by a few legacy players. What sets Angle Health apart?
Wang: If you’ve ever tried to access and pay for medical care in the US, then you’ll know the health insurance industry is lacking in transparency, simplicity, and, at times, humanity. People are served confusing, vaguely worded coverage, and left to navigate the system with little clarity about what services are covered and how much is paid out-of-pocket.
We are a modern, digitally-native health insurance provider that has designed our platform from the ground up to ensure people are provided the resources to be able to easily understand their coverage and access care. We’ve built a unified platform that provides our members with a dedicated, go-to resource for anything healthcare related. All our members also have access to Angle Health’s Care Team via mobile app and phone for dedicated, personalized support, as well as 24/7 telehealth services at minimal to no additional cost for the vast majority of members.
We’ve also built proprietary algorithms and machine-learning models that we utilize across our operations, which allows us to speed up tasks like gathering and validating information, evaluating appropriate coverage levels and services for people, determining plan pricing, and enrollment into the health plan and adjacent services. The onboarding time for Angle Health plans is minutes to hours, compared to the weeks-, sometimes months-, long lead times of most traditional health insurance providers.
Drenik: One of your selling points is that you offer personalization. How do you enable that?
Wang: We give employers the ability to customize aspects like deductibles and copayments, covered services (e.g., infertility, bariatric surgery, etc.), healthcare provider and pharmacy networks, and more. We’re very proud of the fact that we offer this customization. It’s something we prioritized from the beginning. Historically, small- and medium-sized employers only had access to off-the-shelf plans with very rigid structures, with no ability to customize or best meet the needs of their employee base or their budgets. We’ve built a unified platform on top of a fully integrated data infrastructure that enables Angle Health to both handle the operational complexities of customization and personalization, while also providing a better, more transparent, experience for our members.
In addition to customization at the employer-level, Angle Health delivers a personalized experience, including access to value-added products and services, for each member based on their individual situation, healthcare needs, and desire to engage. Leveraging our data and machine-learning capabilities, we proactively recommend clinical programs and services that we believe would be relevant and beneficial to our members on an individualized basis, often at little or no additional cost to our members.
Drenik: Why does the healthcare industry struggle with digitization?
Wang: This is a highly complex question that we could probably talk about for days, so I’ll just hit on one specific area Angle Health has a major advantage as a startup.
Healthcare is a sector composed of a multitude of stakeholders, including healthcare providers, insurance companies, pharmacy networks, government bodies and more. Most of the largest healthcare organizations today, whether they be integrated health systems, major health insurance carriers, or both, are the product of mergers and acquisitions of many smaller regional operations over the course of the past several decades. As a result of how these organizations have formed, they now operate with very siloed systems and infrastructure, and are at a scale that makes technology modernization extremely costly and slow. Moreover, the market power that the major players hold from consolidation and the short-term fiscal priorities that these organizations operate towards mean they have fairly little economic incentive to pursue systemic overhauls of infrastructure.
Compound that with the fact that many of these organizations are very resistant to change on an operational level. One of the things we saw first-hand working with some of the largest organizations in the world at Palantir was that it’s very hard to change the way people operate when they’ve been doing something the same way for 20, 30, 40 years, even with buy-in from the highest levels of leadership.
At Angle Health, in rebuilding the technology stack for a health plan, we’ve also shifted the way our team operates. Rather than having very siloed systems and functions, we have an integrated data asset that serves as a single source of truth powering all our operations. From our sales team to enrollment and onboarding, to claims, customer support, and medical management, our teams operate with a consistent view of the world. This integrated infrastructure drives more efficient operations and also unlocks the ability for Angle Health to offer fully digital experiences, streamlined administration, and an unparalleled level of customization and personalization within the health plan world.
Drenik: What is your vision for the future of healthcare?
Wang: We believe in a world where everyone should have access to quality, appropriate, and affordable healthcare, and where that access is not limited by a person’s understanding of the complexities of health insurance or how to navigate the healthcare system. Today, that’s only true for the privileged few who work for top technology, finance, professional services, or other similar companies.
It doesn’t make sense that healthcare services are hyperlocal but the vehicles for coverage of and access to healthcare today are not. Angle Health is not just an insurance company or a tech company. We are a health company. To us, the future of healthcare is simple, transparent, and hyper-personal. We’re fundamentally reinventing how people approach and access healthcare, and we’re building a platform to power the next iteration of the healthcare system in America.
Drenik: Thank you, Ty, for breaking down the complexities of the US healthcare system and sharing your vision for how Angle Health is changing these dynamics. I look forward to seeing how Angle Health continues to grow and innovate on what’s possible in this industry.