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United Preference is Upping the Ante On Preventative Health Care

Startup companies that cater to American health care innovation always manage to capture quite a bit of attention. This is especially true of those like…

Startup companies that cater to American health care innovation always manage to capture quite a bit of attention. This is especially true of those like Healthbox member United Preference, who aim to bring down the staggeringly high cost of health care by incentivizing preventative health habits. Finding a cure is not always the easiest thing to come by given the price it comes along with — the cost never fails to sink your financial ship. United Preference has a unique and relatively unprecedented method of keeping health plans and employers on the same page: the program enables them to track when funds are being spent and what they are being spent on. Benjamin Doda, United Preference’s Marketing Coordinator, talks to fueled about some essential components of the company’s strategy.

There is usually some kind of pressing event that sparks an idea. What was the inspiration behind United Preference?

Prior to starting United Preference, we owned and operated a leading marketing strategy firm out of New York for thirteen years, launching financial services and healthcare IT companies.  Within health care, we saw an accelerating use of incentives — today employers spend on average $629 per employee to incentivize healthy behaviors — yet a fragmented system of cash, gift cards, and prepaid cards,  none of which addressed the critical need to motivate and impact behavior change.  Our vision was to bring to market a new currency, Tailored Spend™, which could only be spent on health-related products, and/or items and services that could motivate healthy behaviors.  So, for the first time, health plans and employers could understand what products and services are being consumed with health-incentive dollars, know exactly when they are being consumed, and tie that back into behavioral analytics.

How will United Preference help improve our health care system?

Sixty billion dollars are spent annually by health plans and employers to engage members in healthy behaviors.  However, it’s delivered via a fragmented system of cash, gift cards, and prepaid cards. Moreover, it cannot be tracked or tied directly into behavior analytics. Seventy percent of the diseases that Americans suffer from are preventable. Tailored spend cards can be tailored to only purchase health-related products, like over-the-counter medications and supplements from leading drugstores, healthy foods from grocery stores, and services like gym memberships and doctor office co-pays nationally. Throughout the platform, people are empowered to truly engage in their own preventative health and wellness by being rewarded with truly healthy dollars.

How did United Preference get its initial financial support?

United Preference was self-funded initially, but we really got a boost from the Healthbox Accelerator program out of Chicago, under Sandbox Industries and Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners.

Is there any competition in United Preference’s market?

United Preference is the only company that can tailor wellness-incentive spending down to the product level. Other companies in the market direct consumers to certain locations, but people can still buy anything they want at those locations. United Preference is the only company that can provide tailored incentive dollars that can only be spent on specific health products and items.

What are some of your advantages over potential competitors?

Three things differentiate United Preference from all other health and wellness card products and incentive currencies.

  1. Guaranteed return on investment (ROI).  Thirty-eight percent of gift cards and prepaid cards on average go unused. Our platform has the ability to annually or biannually sweep accounts and return all unused funds to health plans and employers.
  2. Single card, single platform. Our cards can be tailored so a single card can only be used to purchase over-the-counter medications and supplements from drugstores, healthy foods from supermarkets, and gym memberships.  If healthy foods and supplements, for example, are not motivating behavior change, cards can be retailored with our cloud-based admin portal so incentive dollars can instead be used to purchase items like consumer electronics and athletic gear.
  3. Analytics capabilities. We can track and report on how funds are being used to drive member engagement. Understanding these trends is key to helping people make long-term lifestyle changes.

How does United Preferences keep its team motivated?

Our team is motivated by the fact that we are making a positive impact on American health care. Like most people, we relate to diseases like diabetes and cancer affecting our loved ones, so I think there is a personal aspect to our motivation too; our team very sincerely cares about working to end  this type of unnecessary suffering. From a business perspective, we are extremely motivated by the high energy and excitement that surrounds not only our own company but also the amazing innovations happening everywhere in health care technology right now, such as the companies at Healthbox Accelerator.

What are the company’s goals for the next six to twelve months?

Our goal is to continue to work with major health plans, employers, and wellness platform partners to make Tailored Spend™ the currency for delivering health and wellness benefits and incentives in America. We seek to empower Americans with our Tailored Spend prepaid cards to realize better overall health and long-term lifestyle changes.

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