Mobile-enabled insurance card company Medlio launches app, sees medical payments opportunity

By: Aditi Pai | Jan 15, 2014        

Tags: | | | | |  |

MedlioDurham, North Carolina-based Medlio has launched its virtual insurance card app, available on iOS and Android platforms.

The app currently enables users to see their health insurance benefits information, including as co-pays and deductible balances; a map to find doctors, hospitals and pharmacies near the user’s location; an appointment check-in service on the app; and another portal to pay for appointments. According to the website, Medlio’s cost transparency tool, called Common Cents, is coming soon.

“We have this fundamental problem in healthcare — it’s always been the case where we have a buyer-seller service, where neither party know what the cost of that service is,” CEO David Brooks told MobiHealthNews. “Now, this is, at least for the last 30 years, how it’s always been in healthcare, and up until recently, it hasn’t been a big deal. And the reason is [that] patients really weren’t responsible for the full brunt of the cost. Typically people are on PPO plans and have to do the copay. And other than paying $25, they don’t really care that much about how the rest got settled between the doctor and the insurance company.”

The rise of high deductible health plans, which Brooks said could cover about 80 percent of people with health insurance in two years (up from 15 percent in 2012), will be a key driver of adoption of Medlio’s products.

Brooks also hopes to one day replace the merchant services that are currently in place at doctor’s offices through a partnership with companies like Paypal or Square and monetize Medlio through transactional fees.

Brooks estimates that while these merchant services probably charge doctors three to five percent in transaction costs, with a partner he could charge three percent, if not less.

“Most providers don’t value merchant services,” Brooks said. “They’re not really concerning themselves that much over fractional percentage points on these payments. I think there is going to be a strong interest in [whether] our software can help them collect literally tens of thousands of dollars per month from patients that they would otherwise not be able to collect.”

In the meantime, Brooks continues to build out the company’s primary product, the digital insurance card, which he says will help offer physicans’ practices a near real time snapshot of the patient’s benefits in a form that would be easily shareable.

“Many people are quite interested in being able to take a picture of their insurance card, and have that information virtualized in a way that they can easily share with their providers or whoever else they need to share their insurance card with,” Brooks said. “So we actually stepped back and said let’s make this the core promise — we can help you take a picture, present it nicely on a phone, so they can easily read it and see it and we can share that insurance card in a secure way.”

Last year, Medlio raised $198,000 in a seed round and in April the company also participated in the Philadelphia-based DreamIt accelerator.