I, like millions of others, have health insurance, but ask me if I understand it, what I’m paying for and where my expenses are going to, and I don’t have much of an answer. But just as software is helping organize personal finance, travel, banking and billing, we’re starting to see some cool solutions that tackle the problem of health care information.
Simplee, a Palo Alto, Calif.-startup, is looking to bring a Mint.com-like approach to health care expense management, with a free service that lets people understand their plans, what they’re paying for and how they can optimize their coverage. The service, which has been in private beta for the last month, is now available to the public today.
The website works by connecting to a user’s healthcare accounts and bringing in the data, so health, vision and dental records can all be aggregated in one place. Simplee said it has 65 percent of the market supported with many big insurance plans on board such as Aetna (s AET), Anthem, Blue Cross (s wlp), Blue Shield, Cigna (s ci), Delta Dental, United Healthcare (s unh) and Vision Service Plan with 80 percent of the market expected to be covered by the end of this year.
Now you have to feel comfortable letting Simplee have access to your records, but if you do, there’s a pretty good tradeoff. Simplee keeps track of your medical expenses and how much a user has paid in deductibles. For families, it helps a user understand when a family member has hit their deductible and how much their insurance plan is covering. Users can manage their ongoing bills and track specific bills by service, subscriber and medical provider. It all comes in a clean dashboard that helps users see where there money is going. It also alerts users to what kind of benefits they receive under their current plans, so they can take advantage of services they didn’t realize they were covered for.
Simplee co-founder and CEO Tomer Shoval, who used to lead the north American business of Shopping.com (s ebay), came up with the idea after racking up family medical expenses on vacation. He said the service is increasingly important as families pay more of their medical expenses out of pocket. He said Simplee will start by aggregating data and giving users good management tools. But he said the next phase, which he hopes can be monetized, will involve arming people with data on how to select their health care plans. And over the next year, he is looking at creating a shopping engine for health procedures based on Simplee’s database of health care bills, so users can compare prices between doctors and find a professional that fits their budget.
Simplee, which has raised $1.5 million from Greylock Israel and some angels, is part of a growing group of health care startups that are tapping into available data and building tools that help make sense of the health care mess. Cake Health and Medify are two others that are trying to tackle this issue. But Simplee is also part of a larger movement in software management tools that use clean user interfaces and user experiences to help simplify more complicated tasks. Mint.com has helped with personal finance and we’re seeing some of those lessons pop up in other startups like BankSimple, Manilla and Project Slice. The real power is in easily organizing data in one place and making it easy to manage, which helps users make better and more informed decisions.
It’s good to see this come to health care, which has been more of a black box than other areas. But as information becomes increasingly available online, it makes more sense to have these kinds of tools available. I know I don’t spend much time understanding my health care and that might work right now. But I’m not getting any younger and as my health care needs grow, along with my family, I’m going to want something like Simplee.