When Sally Poblete stepped down from her 20-year career as a healthcare executive to launch a company of her own, she was led by a passion for building consumer confidence in insurance.
Prior to founding her company, Poblete’s tenure included being product development director for several health startups as well as tracking and analyzing the insurance industry as a VP at Anthem. In 2013, she launched Wellthie, a cloud-based platform that provides simplified insurance solutions for small businesses through brokers.
The timing was certainly ripe—the largest model attempting to ease the pain of selecting and paying for health insurance came not at the hands of a traditional high-tech startup, but by the adoption of technology by the federal government via the roll out of the HealthCare.gov portal. Though the transition was rough and riddled with glitches, the launch of a site matching consumers with insurance providers marked the beginning of tech’s disruption in the insurance marketplace.
Since its inception, Wellthie has raised millions of dollars in venture capital, grown to a team of over 20 employees operating from its New York City headquarters, and sharpened its trajectory on changing the stressful experience of selecting and purchasing insurance for the everyday small business owner.
Eliminating the Clutter
Likening the platform to Zillow, Poblete says that Wellthie modernizes the insurance marketplace by aggregating plans from insurance companies and licensing its software to brokers, who in turn work with small business clients.
In the early days, traction for Wellthie’s platform was a result of Poblete’s relationships within the industry, but one could argue that the growing trend of digitizing insurance created a compelling use case for attracting brokers to a platform that could potentially spell more sales to their customers.
The platform’s algorithms match customers to the right selection of insurance plans models based on their responses and other personal data they provide. Brokers utilize the interface which removes the tedious, jargon-filled language from the typical insurance policy plan and matches their clients with ease.
Innovation in the Era of Regulations
Poblete placed her bets on the changing landscape of insurance access at the right time—insurance tech, or insurtech, trails health tech as a multi-billion-dollar industry slated to see significant overhaul over the next decade.
Today, as the health tech space proliferates, investors and startups alike are diligently seeking to build and scale solutions that provide an alternative to archaic systems which rely heavily on intimidating paperwork, unintelligible policy clauses, and insurance brokers shuffling between a slew of plans that very few comprehend.
Both industries will continue to see changes in the regulatory environment as federal and state policies adapt to a more tech-driven world. In the wake of President Trump’s forthcoming changes to the Affordable Care Act and other healthcare-adjacent laws, Poblete asserts that Wellthie remains nimble.
Healthcare technology companies like hers consistently stay abreast of changes in the regulatory environment, adapting where necessary, and using these changes to influence how they deliver services to customers over time.
Wellthie recently closed a $5 million Series A led by IA Capital Group, with participation from Aflac Corporate Ventures. Poblete will take on additional employees to help grow and expand sales and marketing, eventually expanding into vision, dental, and life insurance, as well.
The (Digital) Road Ahead
Companies like Wellthie are leading the charge on transforming the insurance industry through data and will be heavily influenced by the ongoing demands of interoperability and patient privacy.
While hospitals and wearable technology companies onboard systems to exchange public health information about patients and care teams, insurtech providers must also consider how they will play their part in delivering efficient, simplified solutions to the larger digital healthcare system.