Health Services, Telemedicine, Pharmacy

Sesame adds online pharmacy to cash-pay marketplace

The startup, where patients access cash-pay telehealth and in-person visits, recently added prescription delivery through Truepill. It’s offering a list of generic medications for $5. 

Two years ago, Sesame launched with the idea of letting doctors set their own cash-pay prices, cutting insurance out of the picture altogether. Since then, the direct-to-consumer has grown quickly, adding a breadth of telehealth visits, imaging services and some diagnostic tests.

Now, the New York-based startup is rounding out its services with the addition of an online pharmacy, administered behind the scenes by Truepill. With this partnership, patients who had a virtual or in-person visit through Sesame could receive medications delivered to their home, with a list of generics priced at $5. Their prescriptions would automatically refill for the same price.

Similar to Walmart’s $4 list, Sesame’s includes common medications across a range of conditions, including birth control, statins, antihistamines and antidepressants.

David Goldhill, who wrote a book decrying a costly, opaque health system, founded the company with the idea of making it easier for patients to “shop” for in-person visits. For example, providers could use it to fill an open appointment after a cancellation, or to bundle together multiple services for one cash price. 

Last year, the company raised $24 million in funding. Goldhill noted that Sesame’s payment model for in-person visits had seen a lot of traction with telehealth. The startup currently touts more than a thousand providers, with services raising from a cheap, $25 telehealth consult, to therapy, dermatology visits, x-rays and CT scans.

Sesame is one of several direct-to-consumer health startups that have gained traction recently. Startups Hims and Ro have grown quickly, while some companies, such as FOLX, are tailoring this approach to LGBTQ patients and other groups of people.

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