About Michael Swartz
Michael Swartz is the president of Health Karma. Since losing his health insurance after moving to New York City and experiencing the incomprehensible process of finding an affordable doctor, Michael has been on a continuing journey to “find a better way” and fix healthcare. After a couple of years of searching for a solution, he started building the team that would eventually create Health Karma. Their mission is to continually raise the bar of the healthcare experience by empowering people to understand and manage their healthcare anywhere, anytime, and regardless of whether they have insurance.
About Health Karma
Health Karma, a wholly owned subsidiary of MediXall Group, is a data-driven healthcare technology company that is on a mission to continually raise the bar of the healthcare experience by empowering people to understand and manage their entire health care journey anywhere, anytime, whether they have insurance or not. Visit https://www.healthkarma.org/.
Medical Travel & Digital Health News (MTDHN): Could you provide our readers with some background information about your company?
Michael Swartz (MS): As the number of Americans with high-deductible health plans continues to increase, consumers are assuming more responsibility for their healthcare costs. They need accurate and easy-to-navigate tools to help them make the right care decisions. Unfortunately, the healthcare consumer has been forced to use one-off tools that are often inaccurate or hard to navigate.
The reality is healthcare costs start when people choose a doctor. Choosing the wrong doctor can have a snowball effect, resulting in poor care decisions and wasting money on unnecessary, expensive care. We built Health Karma to offer an integrated experience that empowers consumers with information, enabling them to make the best decisions for their healthcare.
Consumer feedback from the initial beta launch uncovered confusion and a lack of understanding of how much healthcare services will cost. That feedback also indicated confusion regarding choosing doctors, which procedures or prescriptions might be required, and a general inability to make informed care decisions.
Aligned with the feedback gathered during the beta launch, Health Karma gives consumers a 360-degree view of their health with the educational tips, tools, and guidance they need to make informed decisions based on their health needs.
Health Karma shifts the care approach from reactive to proactive, enabling consumers to make smarter and faster decisions.
Ultimately, Health Karma has reimagined the healthcare experience to give people a more consumer-centric way to manage their health: immediate, seamless, and tailored to their unique needs.
- Easy and accessible healthcare: Making healthcare and benefits easy to understand and use through the entire health journey — from onboarding and monitoring to everyday use. Users can actively and confidently engage with their healthcare anytime, anywhere.
- Personalized health experience: Empowering users to take charge of their health and wellness through targeted health campaigns with relevant programs and resources.
- Always-on service: Delivering immediate support to solve benefits-related questions and address health-related concerns throughout the health experience.
MTDHN: What groups do you serve?
MS: We primarily focus on serving two groups:
The first segment is the nearly two-thirds of Americans under age 65 — about 116 million people — who have either medical bill problems or debt, went without needed care due to cost, and who were either uninsured or underinsured at some point.
The second segment includes the small and midsize businesses that currently aren’t offering healthcare benefits to their employees — or that are offering high-deductible plans.
MTDHN: What can you tell us about the people who are taking advantage of your services?
MS: The people who take advantage of Health Karma are people that long for a better healthcare experience.
They could’ve had a bad experience that directly impacted them, like receiving a surprise medical bill in the mail or maybe they just had trouble finding easy-to-understand information about their insurance plan. Our users are sick of how the healthcare system currently operates, and they want an easy and consumer-friendly solution to take control of their health and wellness.
From an employer perspective, small employers often have a hard time meeting participation guidelines to provide insurance. Health insurance companies dictate the percentage of employees taking insurance because they want as many eligible people to join as possible — not just people who have health issues.
With a small employer, you may have a bunch of 1099 workers, part-timers, and full-timers who don’t make enough money to accept the insurance plan. All those things make it challenging for an agent to get insurance for that small employer. Health Karma gives them a realistic chance to provide healthcare access to everyone that works there.
MTDHN: Can you give some examples of ways your company has helped people?
MS: Through Health Karma’s telehealth offerings, consumers can receive virtual visits for common medical issues and telebehavioral health services for emotional and mental health concerns. To ensure they don’t forgo care because of cost, we created an affordable pricing structure for our program to help meet the needs of people who may be completely uninsured or underinsured on a high-deductible health plan.
Struggling employers have been forced to drop healthcare benefits, and individuals have found themselves lacking affordable insurance options. Millions of uninsured people out there don’t qualify for Medicaid but are also unable to afford high insurance premiums and deductibles.
Employers want to offer healthcare benefits without putting themselves out of business; Health Karma Virtual Primary Care has made this possible. It has given a growing number of employers and other organizations an affordable way to provide healthcare — even for those who do not qualify or cannot afford traditional insurance.
MTDHN: Can you tell the readers how you are operating? Is this direct to consumers or business to business?
MS: We built Health Karma as a B2B2C application to offer an integrated experience that empowers healthcare consumers with the right information at the right time. With many Americans receiving their healthcare coverage through their employer, we made it a point to focus on both direct-to-consumer and business-to-business approaches.
MTDHN: Which of your services are most popular?
MS: From a direct-to-consumer standpoint, we have seen the most demand for our telehealth and teletherapy solution — and for our Health KarmaRx discount program.
Health KarmaRx provides a powerful, free tool for consumers to search and compare prescription drug prices, which can differ between competing pharmacies. Consumers also are able to receive immediate savings using Health KarmaRx Coupons at the register on both generic and brand-name medications. Consumers enter the name of their prescription drug and their ZIP code on our website, and Health Karma immediately displays a list and a map of prices for both the brand-name and generic versions of the drug from local pharmacies.
When it comes to employers, our Virtual Primary Care program has received the most interest from small and midsize businesses that currently are offering limited or no healthcare benefits to their employees. This program includes virtual primary care, men’s and women’s health, urgent care, and behavioral health.
Unlike other healthcare solutions, we offer the same long-standing advantages of in-person primary care — but within a convenient virtual platform. The virtual-ﬁrst approach helps decrease overall healthcare costs for companies and employees. Members in the Health Karma Virtual Primary Care Program can:
- Talk to a doctor in minutes for minor illness or injuries.
- Build a patient-provider relationship by seeing the same primary care physician.
- Enjoy the same patient-provider relationship and follow-ups you’d get with in-person visits.
- Manage chronic conditions with ongoing treatment plans.
- Have a virtual wellness exam, including routine labs.
- Receive prescriptions and reﬁlls.
- Receive prescription discounts and coupons at the pharmacy.
- Receive coordinated referrals to specialty care.
MTDHN: Are your services available nationwide? / What regions does your model serve?
MS: Health Karma is signing up consumers and employers nationwide. It can connect to thousands of health insurance policies nationwide. No matter what someone’s situation might be, we can be there to empower them to make confident financial decisions about where to get care. Our telehealth, teletherapy, and Rx programs are available in all 50 states.
MTDHN: What aspect of this platform has the biggest impact?
MS: Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., telehealth and teletherapy have helped combat the virus while easing the burden on traditional healthcare systems. Last year, Health Karma introduced the Health Karma for Employer program, including Virtual Primary Care, to address employers’ needs to cut healthcare expenses and provide safe, affordable, and accessible healthcare for all.
We see this surge of big companies entering telehealth with the COVID-19 outbreak as a positive for our Health Karma for Employers product. It validates our virtual primary care offering and provides us with the opportunity to highlight our full suite of employee benefits. As consumers begin returning to in-person care, the Health Karma platform will guide them through finding providers, analyzing costs, and receiving prescription discounts.
MTDHN: What fees are associated with this type of service?
MS: It is entirely free to create a Health Karma account. For our telehealth memberships and our Virtual Primary Care program, there is an associated monthly subscription fee.
MTDHN: Where do you see the industry going from your perspective?
MS: The United States has the most complicated healthcare system in the world. As a result of this, changes within the industry are slow and hard to fix.
However, COVID-19 catalyzed a major acceleration in adopting digital health solutions such as telehealth, virtual visits, context-aware clinical communications, remote monitoring, and clinical surveillance and reporting solutions. This has changed how patients receive care and created trust in online healthcare platforms to educate and deliver services.
When thinking about the future, there are few reasons to believe that users will ever return to pre-COVID levels. A future enabled with increased access and usage of digital health tools will have a significant leg up due to a more empowered healthcare consumer and an increased collective capacity of our entire healthcare system to support any considerable strain on their time and resources.
Technological innovation will continue to change how healthcare is delivered, resulting in more personalized care focused on the patient experience. Specifically, new technology will enable healthcare providers to tailor their care to patients’ unique needs while increasing patient autonomy and engagement.