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Continued: Health IT start-up helps absorb health care rollout bumps

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 14, 2013 - 3:51 PM

In reality, if I am a small employer with group coverage, I may be doing my employees a disservice — some employees might receive tax credits from the government that could make buying through the exchange a much better deal for them than the group plan.

We tell businesses to drop group coverage and send all of the people to the exchange. They might not have had the courage to do that before. Gravie can create a solution that is a win-win for the employer as well as the employee.

Q: I thought the beauty of the exchanges is that people can shop themselves. Why would someone need Gravie?

A: You can buy it yourself. But health insurance is way too complicated. Gravie can help people figure out if they qualify for a subsidy, make the application and offer in-person assistance if you need it.


Q: So Gravie basically plays the role of a broker?

A: Yes. We are a licensed broker and we will have a broker’s license in all 50 states by early next year. Like traditional brokers, we collect a fee from insurance companies when people sign up for health coverage. But our employees are salaried. We make the same amount whether people buy on the exchange or from the insurance company.


Q: How do you differ from traditional brokers or established websites, such as e-health?

A: Traditional brokers are not really equipped to deal with individuals. Their entire mind-set is based on solving employers’ problems, and selling insurance to people. Sure, we do that, too. But we also bring a more comprehensive set of after-sale services, including qualified member advisers who can help if you have a claim that gets denied or you have to go to the hospital and you can’t figure out what, who and how to pay.


Q: You’ve been successful at reading the health insurance market in your previous ventures, with Definity, Red Brick and Bloom Health. How bright is Gravie’s future?

A: We think the consumer market for health care services is going to explode. Consumers have more power than they’ve had in the past. But there’s so much information out there that it’s confusing and frustrating without some road map.

There used to be just a few ways to buy insurance, where you bought into a predetermined provider network and a plan design. But now the old “health plan” is starting to get disaggregated.

Someone might buy a bronze insurance plan on the exchange, save money, and then want to pair it with a pediatric concierge service because that’s important to them. Our focus will be on helping individuals put together the various pieces in a way that makes the most sense for them. We represent the new way to sell goods and services in health care.


Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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  • Abir Sen is CEO of Gravie, headquartered in downtown Minneapolis. The company helps customers navigate the complicated world of health care.

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