By Daniel Petkevich
Aug 25, 2022
42 years ago, my parents left the Soviet Union, and started a new life in Houston, Texas. It was the best decision of their lives. They massively improved their standard of living. In Leningrad grocery stores, “meat” was an item; in Houston, it was a category. And they massively improved their ability to be rewarded for their work. My Dad became a software engineer at NASA. My brother got good grades and earned a spot at Yale.
Healthcare in the United States was much better too. My grandfather died of a botched appendectomy; something that is unheard of in the States. When my mother took my brother to a dentist for the first time in the U.S., she asked the receptionist to tell the dentist to hold the anesthesia because it was frequently over-administered in the USSR. The receptionist was horrified, but the dentist, who had worked with Soviet immigrants with the same fear, assured her that she had nothing to worry about.
But now that my parents are over 65, I see another side of the American healthcare system that has a degree of opacity and inefficiency reminiscent of the centrally planned country they left as refugees.
A year ago, my Mom called me about getting a knee-replacement, a significant surgery with a long recovery time that, if done incorrectly, could severely limit her mobility. To find the right doctor, she looked for patient outcomes data online. Nothing. She looked for pricing online. Nothing. The best she could do was interview every doctor she was recommended. The data she collected was unsatisfying, qualitative, and self reported. She decided to put off the surgery until it was more obviously necessary.
This is just an example I know about. I assume that every time my parents interact with a doctor, they endure filling out multiple sets of paper forms, long wait times, hold music, and billing disputes. This terrible customer experience is par for the course across most doctors offices in our country.
The root cause here is that consumers aren’t the ones paying for their healthcare. When you go to a doctor’s office, you pay a copay or a coinsurance. The rest is paid by your insurance carrier. The carrier, not you, is buying healthcare from the provider. You are merely the impetus for the transaction.
Wealthy people have solved this problem by becoming payers. They hire “concierge doctors” for $100,000 a year, a sum unaffordable by most Americans, especially those over the age of 65 and living on a fixed income.
How can the rest of us not feel like we’re in a dystopian novel every time we go to the doctor?
That’s the problem Fair Square Medicare is solving.
Fair Square Medicare is creating a digital healthcare assistant for seniors. We:
Help you find doctors you love, schedule appointments for you, and get you a ride to them if you need it. This includes your annual checkup, preventive health screenings, and dental cleanings.
Connect you to new digital health services that can help you manage chronic conditions.
Give you instant access to your health insurance plans benefits. 94% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries have a free gym membership or over-the-counter pharmacy credit they don’t use.
Find cheaper prescriptions for you
Give you on-demand video consultation with a doctor when you have a question.
Our company’s north star is to build the technology that will guide my own parents, and the millions of seniors like them, through the maze of senior healthcare.
We’ve started this journey by solving the first problem a senior faces in their healthcare journey: choosing health insurance.
Seniors turning 65 need to enroll in Medicare coverage within a short window around their 65th birthday. And they need to choose the right plan out of an average of 50 available to them.
Of course, no one can make heads or tails out of these 50 plans, so they go to the insurance agent down the street or call a large Medicare brokerage.
Almost always, the plan a broker recommends is the one that pays him the highest commission. The principal-agent problem defines the Medicare brokerage industry, and the principals are clearly unhappy. The largest public Medicare brokerages are now seeing 50% of their customers leave every year.
Our solution: the first customer obsessed and commission agnostic Medicare brokerage in the United States. We treat our clients like human beings, we educate them about Medicare instead of selling to them, we don’t buy leads, we don’t cold call, and most importantly, we don’t consider commission when we recommend plans.
After two years of operating, the data shows that our approach resonates with our clients. 94% stay with us year-over-year, compared to an industry average of 50%. And our NPS score is 95, compared to an industry average of 12.
Today, I am thrilled to announce our $15M Series A, led by Define Ventures, with participation by our amazing seed investors - Sam Lessin and Will Quist at Slow Ventures and YCombinator. This brings our total funding to date to $19M.
Chirag Shah, Partner at Define, will be joining FSM’s board. Chirag and Lynne Chou O’Keefe, founder of Define, are wonderful thought partners and deeply connected in the healthcare space. They - like me - are also first generation Americans. We are thrilled to add them to the Fair Square Medicare family.
I look forward to bringing a better healthcare experience to millions of American seniors.
Virgil Insurance Agency, LLC (DBA Fair Square Medicare) and www.fairsquaremedicare.com are privately owned and operated by Help Button Inc. Medicare supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. This is a solicitation of insurance. A licensed agent/producer may contact you. Medicare Supplement insurance is available to those age 65 and older enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B and, in some states, to those under age 65 eligible for Medicare due to disability or End-Stage Renal disease. Virgil Insurance Agency is a licensed and certified representative of Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP and PFFS organizations and stand-alone PDP prescription drug plans. Each of the organizations we represent has a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal. The plans we represent do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov. © 2022 Help Button Inc
We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.