By Mark Newman on September 22, 2021
There are over 2,000 of us working every day at Nomi Health (up from 10 two years ago!) who have had the opportunity to serve communities across the country throughout the pandemic and beyond. Our work, at its core, is creating a real time direct healthcare system for healthcare buyers like States, Counties, City and Employers to connect with providers directly to drastically reduce costs and improve access. Affordable healthcare in America is a real possibility system wide – just don’t count on the traditional model of insurance and billing companies to get you there.
Here at Nomi we serve more than 40,000 people every day across communities in multiple states where we operate. We are rewiring how healthcare gets paid for so that the real buyers of healthcare can pay providers directly without dealing with insurance and billing companies, settle in real time to drive much lower costs and deliver broad based care programs including Covid-19 testing, vaccinations, veterans support, prison health, telehealth and other projects to improve access to the care that people need. From the beginning of the pandemic to now we’ve served over 10 million people across the country. This is only possible thanks to the hard work of our team members at Nomi Health and the amazing teams at Co-Diagnostics, Qualtrics, Domo, Thermo Fisher, Abbott, ATL Technologies, SiliconSlopes, Lightspeed --and so many others across the nation with whom we’ve locked arms and done such great work through the entire pandemic and beyond. To all CEOs, Governors and Mayors out there in our partner ecosystem – your teams rock. They bring positivity and resilience to every challenge. They problem-solve better than any team I’ve ever worked alongside. As I see it, the light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel is in sight and we are marching towards it every day.
Emerging out of the pandemic we looked to offer the members of the communities we serve a fresh start -- something we all need coming out of this time in our lives – and a giant thank you for the opportunity to serve and partner with each of you. For each of you out there part of the journey and fight against Covid-19 - We donated almost $2 million to buy and wipe out $225 million in personal medical debt burdening over roughly 200,000 Americans across the country right now with the help of RIP Medical Debt. Closer to home in Utah – 73,000 of our neighbors and friends will see more than $100 million of that debt wiped away. This is the first of many thank you posts. Nomi wants to thank our communities for the opportunity to serve. We’re grateful to our partners for standing by us day in and day out.
To each of you that spent night and day getting live and serving the communities we serve together I’m forever in your debt. You are amazing.
Now, about this announcement. A few basics.
Why did we partner with RIP Medical Debt?
As leaders and contributors to our communities, we can lead by example in stopping medical debt. We cannot wait for the traditional players of healthcare to change. We cannot wait for public policy to shift. Right now, in communities large and small, Americans are weighed down by the burden of medical debt most of which is totally unexpected. It’s already getting worse. COVID-19 costs are going unchecked with people getting confusing bills in the mail from their insurance companies.
The burden of medical debt is the single leading cause of bankruptcy in America. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical debt has jumped to $140 billion in the last year. On average, those with medical debt owe more than $2,400. What’s worse, 66% of all U.S. bankruptcies are tied to medical debt (Source: RIP Medical Debt). Hospitals--which already must fight insurance companies to get a fraction of costs for the care they already provided--are having to get more aggressive about suing their patients to collect to stay in business.
The worst part? This is all 100% avoidable.
Look clearly at how we got here as a nation and you’ll see a debt disaster created by the cascading failures of a system without standards.
The First Failure: No Standards.
When it comes to negotiated rates between insurance companies and healthcare providers, the cost of care is inconsistent everywhere. The same colonoscopy that costs $782 for someone uninsured, costs $1,463 for members of Insurance Company A, and $2,144 for members of Insurance Company B. Same hospital. Same equipment. Same technician. Same physician. So why the 274% price discrepancy? Why should an individual’s medical bill be at the mercy of a negotiation they have NOTHING to do with? Where are the voices demanding change?
The Second Failure: The highest paid people make benefits decisions.
It’s the lowest paid people in an organization or program who see the problem up close--and they have the least power to change it. Whether healthcare decisions lay with the business owner, the HR team, or the insurance broker, the people with the largest compensation and benefits package make choices. A monthly premium of $1,200 and a $2000 deductible might sound reasonable to an executive, but not to their colleagues who see those costs empty out of their paychecks. Lower-paid colleagues look back at the end of the calendar year and see 24% of their income spent on healthcare (the median income in the U.S. is $68,703). Very few people look closely at the full costs, least of all when they need medical care. That’s the next failing.
The Third Failure: No Transparency.
Think about the last time you or a loved one got bad news in a doctor's office. Could you focus? Did you understand the weight of the decisions being made, did you have time to ‘do your research’ and understand every option? Or, did you trust the doctor in front of you, and move forward with the recommended course of action? Whether it’s intentional or not, there is too much complexity at the point of service. Patients barely understand what they’re hearing, let alone get the opportunity to understand how much things will cost. Fear and survival replace the cost/benefit analysis, and critical decisions with huge financial consequences are made without any real transparency into what will happen next.
How can we fix it?
We start by calling it out and dedicating more to erasing medical debt in our communities. Partner with groups like RIP Medical Debt to start. We’re now RIP Medical Debt’s largest corporate donor to date. We are eliminating debt for people in the states where we’ve been honored to serve throughout the pandemic delivering open testing and vaccination programs and helped state governments create systems to live with a disease that is here to stay. Nearly 200,000 Americans across Utah, Florida, Colorado and Nebraska will soon receive a letter from RIP relieving them of the 1000’s of dollars of debt they’ve been getting calls, texts and letters about. In an instant, they can move on to better things in their lives than dealing with medical debt.
The long term fix is a bigger lift - and it’s why we built Nomi in first place. We have to solve all three failures by removing the middleman from healthcare to connect buyers and providers directly at lower costs, deliver public care solutions at scale, run healthcare in real time and infuse transparency back into personal healthcare decisions. We demand it in all other areas of our life, so why not the very thing that matters most -- our health? We are just getting started…
Thank you again to all of our friends, families, partners and communities that we’ve been honored to work with. We will continue to fight the fight against Covid-19 and the war against high cost healthcare that few can access and no everyday American can afford.