NEW YORK (MainStreet) We're all weary of the stories about the flaws in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and the Obama administration is in full-on PR mode as a result. There are pros and cons, fans and detractors of Obamacare, but throughout the hullaballoo, an interesting phenomenon has emerged: startup companies that have stepped into the void to make the process of acquiring healthcare more seamless for consumers.
This is a real and relevant problem, as 15% of Americans are uninsured, approximately 2.2 million of them in New York alone. This causes a serious drain on the system; last year, uninsured people racked up a total of $42 billion in medical fees that never got paid, and the average U.S. family and its employers ended up paying an extra $1,017 in health care premiums to compensate.
From the beginning, the whole point of the Affordable Care Act has been to stem the tide of health care costs, but about seven in ten uninsured adults still don't understand how the ACA makes coverage more affordable, and only 29% know that the law might provide them with financial help, according to a 2014 study. For that reason, many of these new startups are tackling the educational component of the new law and by making it easier to sign up for a plan.
Here are some of the upstarts making a mark:
Founded by Sally Poblete, a former health insurance exec, after her own harrowing experience trying to navigate her medical bills following a difficult pregnancy, Wellthie services big insurance companies like EmblemHealth by providing tools to help them explain their plans (and the Affordable Care Act) to customers in real-speak. At present, Wellthie's signature tool is the Affordable Care Advisor, which helps consumers figure out which plans are best for them and calculates what kinds of subsidies they qualify for.