High-deductible plans certainly have their detractors, but ever since their introduction in 2003, the plans have been becoming more prevalent in the health insurance arena. Many employers and employees see them as attractive alternatives to lower deductible/ higher-premium plans, but the limitations — including the loss of co-pays for doctors office visits — turn many others, including myself, off.
So I was intrigued recently when I read about WhiteGlove House Call Health, a health care company that dispatches nurse practitioners on house calls to patients. The Texas-based company, which recently filed an IPO, does not file insurance claims like traditional health care providers. Instead, the company’s customers pay a membership fee and are charged co-pays to have a nurse come to their home or office. Services provided by the company are comparable to those offered in doctors’ offices or walk-in clinics like MinuteClinic or RediClinic. They include physicals, vaccinations, and lab work. Nurses will even deliver generic or over-the counter drugs, as well as “wellness” grocery items like chicken soup and Kleenex, to patients.
While just about anyone is eligible for WhiteGlove’s services, the company’s primary end customers consist of the self-insured and employees who have high-deductible insurance plans. According to a recent SEC filing, WhiteGlove works with insurance companies and touts its concept as an add-on of sorts to high-deductible insurance plans. Employers, it says, that are eager to lower health care costs by promoting high-deductible plans will often spring for the membership fee and offer WhiteGlove’s services as a benefit of the plan.
Although I find its concept interesting, the company — founded in 2006 by hi-tech entrepreneur Robert Fabbio — operates in relatively few markets (mainly major markets in Texas and the northeast) and has a history of operating losses. As such, it will need investors, expansion into several other major markets, and acceptance from larger, more traditional players in the health care industry, to succeed. And with its recent IPO filed earlier this month, the company hopes to do just that.