This app lets you pick the healthcare you need instead of giving you a one-size-fits-all plan

league health insurance app
It may depend on who you ask, but if there’s one industry that seems to be lagging behind in tech, it could be healthcare. Workplace health insurance hasn’t changed a whole lot, even under the Affordable Care Act in the United States. League is a startup looking to shake the industry up by changing the consumer healthcare experience with a platform that gives employees more choice in how to spend their insurance dollars.

Led by CEO Mike Serbinis, who previously founded and led Kobo, the platform is largely Web and app-based (iOS and Android). It aims to remove paper-based red tape and open more direct lines of communication between the employers, their employees, and the health providers. In effect, League is a marketplace where employees can browse and select the service they feel they need most, spending the money, or “allowance” allocated to them by their employer.

“Having one size to fit everyone is really designed to have people use very little of their benefits.”

Serbinis suggests it is an outright replacement for “your grandfather’s health benefits that don’t really fit today’s employee or consumer.” He argues standard health coverage is limited in choice, particularly in holistic or homeopathic options, like massage or chiropractic treatment. It also costs a lot of money to run that traditional model because of the “laborious process” of submitting paper-based claims, having real people in an adjudication center looking at every claim, and deciding whether to pay out.

“Having one size to fit everyone is really designed to have people use very little of their benefits. It’s claims avoidance versus maximizing your engagement,” says Serbinis. “In our model, there’s no concept of a claim or reimbursement. There’s just a digital wallet in the app, so when it comes to selecting something you’re interested in from the marketplace, that’s it, payment happens automatically. No papers to fill out, nothing for you to do.”

You pick the care you need

Here’s how it works: The digital wallet, or allowance, is at the employer’s discretion as to how much to allocate per employee, but it’s up to the employee on how to best spend that money on their own health and wellness. For example, if acupuncture is a personal favorite, that employee could dip into the allowance and go with a provider in League’s marketplace. No money has to exchange hands because it is all done through the platform, which also has tools for managing appointments.

A key part of this, Serbinis adds, is the transparency. Prices aren’t fixed, they are open, giving providers an impetus to compete, while consumers will know what they’re spending in advance. Meanwhile, employers will be on top of every dollar that goes out through the platform, avoiding any surprise bills at the end of the year. League takes a small administration fee off the top, along with a 2.5 percent transaction fee from providers. Employees or consumers don’t pay anything.

In some instances, League would be an add-on for employers’ existing insurance plan. Still, he says that whether they’re buying corporate wellness or personal spending account features for League, they are largely replacing the insurer.

League yoga

“The ease of adding or removing somebody from our platform versus on a traditional insurance product is going to make it so that even contractors and short-term employees can have access to the platform,” he says. “Take a construction company, for example, which may have up to 30 contractors working. If many of them have back issues, health insurance may not be feasible for them, so they could get an allowance instead to use for massage, chiropractic, or physiotherapy. They don’t have to take full days off for health reasons.”

The League will expand to more cities and companies

For now, Seattle and Boston are the only U.S. cities where League is operating (Toronto and Vancouver are for Canada), but further expansion to other cities and states is coming soon. Serbinis didn’t reveal where or when, though. Although it’s scalable, the immediate focus has been on small businesses, and more than 100 were added in February alone, including large banks and medium-sized law firms.

In each new geography, the startup recruits the first 50-200 providers, while encouraging word of mouth to get more. Signing up is easy, with a vetting process that takes up to 48 hours to assess insurance, education credentials, licensing or health regulations, and reputation.

“Once they’re in, they’ve got a complete way to run their business, manage their clients, schedule appointments, get payments, issue receipts, handle cancellations, handle reminders, and messaging,” he says. “Even if you don’t want to join the marketplace, but want to use League for your existing clients, there’s a big value proposition there for you.”

Shane Atchison, CEO of Possible, a Seattle-based digital agency, signed his company up for League recently, noting that most of its workforce wasn’t using their benefits, which was also money the company was losing to insurers. With League, the company would only be paying for what employees actually use, and is much easier with less administration for them and the human resources team.

“We’re just getting started but the on-boarding process was effortless, which is something I can’t say about our previous benefits company,” says Atchison. “We know that when people engage in activities that help them get or stay healthy, they just have a better attitude, which can become infectious.”

The immediate impact would be financial, he adds. In addition to requiring fewer admin resources in-house, there is also an upfront savings because Possible would no longer be paying a benefits provider a flat rate for the full workforce. “The app makes it really easy and the fact that we only pay for what people use is better for our bottom line,” he adds.

The tangible impact for employees remains to be seen, though Atchison expects they will be motivated to take advantage because of how the app automates so much of it. Without paperwork and open options, engagement is expected to be high in the coming months.

For Serbinis, higher engagement is necessary in a time where chronic disease is growing and a tiny percentage is spent on prevention.

“Existing plans make it very difficult for consumers to use plans they have, and is a big reason why people don’t take care of themselves when they could,” he says. “You end up seeing less investment in prevention and wellness, so by making it more accessible and transparent, and easy to use through an app, we’re giving people the kind of choice they didn’t have before.”


Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.

The Cat S48c is the phone designed for construction workers (or the clumsy)

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.

Apple resurrects the iPhone SE with brand-new units starting at $249

Apple quietly started selling the iPhone SE again, at even lower prices than when it was discontinued four months ago. Brand new units of the 32GB version are on sale for $249, while the 128GB version is going for $299.

Popular Android navigation apps are just Google Maps with ads, researcher says

A malware researcher found that 19 free Android navigation apps on the Google Play Store were nothing more than Google Maps, but with ads. One of the apps asked for a payment to remove the ads, while some of them presented security risks.

Google Maps will now help drivers stay within speed limits, avoid speed traps

Google Maps will now start showing speed limits and speed camera locations, so that drivers will not be flagged for speeding tickets. The new features arrive to the app years after they were introduced in Waze.

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.

If you want Samsung's advanced folding phone, be prepared to pay a lot for it

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy Fold, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.

Do these case images confirm a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the S10 E?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.