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Etsy Tells Sellers to Get Health Insurance via Tech Startup

Executives from Reputation.com, Netflix, and Priceline want to sell you health insurance through their tech startup called Stride Health, and they’re getting companies like Etsy, Intuit, and Uber to send users over to their website.

On Monday, Etsy advised its sellers to use Stride Health, which is a health insurance broker, though it couldn’t tell EcommerceBytes anything about the vetting process it used in partnering with the firm.

Users don’t pay Stride Health for quotes – it makes money through commissions from insurance companies, as it explains here.

We couldn’t find any details about the company on its website. We turned to this New York Times blog post to learn more about its founders: Noah Lang spent five years as a vice president of business development at Reputation.com, and Matt Butner worked on recommendation features used at Netflix and Priceline.

The Times said the company’s business model was “being a broker, collecting commissions on sales of recommended insurance policies,” and, it wrote, “Stride Health has created a recommendation engine for individuals and families buying health insurance.”

The company predicts what a household’s actual health care costs are likely to be in a given year by collecting data from people during the quote process. Questions include the following:

“Do you take any prescription drugs regularly?”

“Do you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products?”

“Do you have any of the following medical conditions?” (Diabetes; Arthritis; Depression; ADHD; High Cholesterol; Asthma; Heart Disease; High blood pressure; COPD)

After reading what Etsy sellers were saying about the announcement on its discussion board, we asked Etsy a series of questions:

How did Etsy come up with the idea to enter into a partnership with a health-insurance service? Or did Stride Health approach Etsy?

How much time and resources were spent on working on this partnership?

Did Etsy vet Stride Health before endorsing it, and if so, how did it go about it?

Does Stride Health have relationships with certain health insurance companies or providers? Some sellers say it’s got a tendency to promote Blue Cross Blue Shield. Some sellers say they see more options on the ACA websites than through Stride Health – why would that be the case?

Does Etsy benefit in any way from this partnership? Are any executives, VCs/investors, or board members involved in any way with Stride Health?

Is Etsy surprised at the conversation and spirited debate following this announcement?

Has Etsy any knowledge, anecdotally or otherwise, about the issues its sellers face in getting health insurance?

Nikki Summer provided the following statement and said that was all the company had to say when we followed up:

“At Etsy, we’re always looking for ways to help our sellers build their creative businesses on their own terms. That includes helping these self-employed entrepreneurs tackle challenges like health insurance coverage. Having the right health insurance is vital to helping our sellers save money, stay healthy and have time to focus on what they love doing. That’s why we partnered with Stride Health, which makes it quicker and easier to find the right health insurance. Stride Health will instantly compare thousands of health plans and provide recommendations to Etsy sellers based on their lifestyle and budget. We’re excited to make this service available to our sellers to help them and their families stay healthy. Etsy takes no fees from this partnership. We’re grateful to have such a passionate, engaged community.”

It’s worth taking a moment to think about how companies like Google and Facebook use customer data to market to them (even while abiding by their privacy policies) before answering the questions on Stride.

It’s acting like a healthcare company – but it’s wise to remember that it’s a technology-driven, VC-funded, insurance broker.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.