Startups, Payers

Virtual primary care startup 98point6 collaborates with health plan Banner|Aetna

Through the collaboration, members of the health plan, which is owned by Banner Health and insurer Aetna, will have access to 98point6’s on-demand, text-based primary care offering.

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98point6, a startup providing an on-demand, text-based primary care service, has teamed up with Banner|Aetna, the Arizona health plan owned by Banner Health and insurer Aetna, according to a news release.

As part of their collaboration, Banner|Aetna members will have unlimited, 24/7 access to 98point6’s solution.

The Seattle-based startup offers an app that users can download. First, the individual texts with the company’s AI assistant so it can gather details about their symptoms. A board-certified doctor will then review this information before the visit begins. The physician can assess any symptoms, diagnose health issues and answer questions via in-app messaging. The tool also has photo and video capabilities that can be used if necessary. After the interaction, the patient’s care plan is available in the 98point6 app. Any prescriptions can be sent to a local pharmacy.

Banner|Aetna intends to start deploying 98point6 to members in July of this year.

In a recent phone interview, 98point6 co-founder and CEO Robbie Cape explained that every Banner|Aetna customer will be eligible to use 98point6, though it will become available to some members before others.

During their renewal period, the member’s employer can add the 98point6 option to their plan. Thus, some members will get it as early as July, while others (whose renewal period is later in the year) will have to wait.

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“Over the course of the next year to year and a half, potentially over 300,000 members will be given access to 98point6,” Cape said.

He added that members on a PPO plan will have a $0 visit fee when they use the app. However, those on a high deductible health plan will have to pay a low visit fee.

In addition to making access to care more convenient for members, the ultimate goal of this partnership is to engage members in their health. “When you build the relationship between primary care and those members, … it leads to dramatic downstream benefits,” Cape said.

He noted that health plans are an important partner for 98point6 and that the Seattle company is “in conversations with many of them.”

Earlier this year, 98point6 revealed that its on-demand platform is available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Additionally, the startup, which was founded in 2015, wrapped up a $50 million Series C round in October. The Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs led the round, and existing investors participated. At that time, 98point6 said it has raised a total of $86.1 million since its inception.

Photo: diego_cervo, Getty Images