Ardina Bridging Gaps in Healthcare Coverage for Younger Generations

Healthcare costs are astronomically rising. One in five people have a high deductible plan with an average $1,217 annual deductible. (More on those findings here.) That means three things. Most people avoid going to the doctor, insurance isn’t really useful until a catastrophic event, and most people don’t have ancillary insurances like dental and vision.

A new Columbus-based healthcare startup is looking to close those gaps in coverage with what it calls the AAA of healthcare. Ardina is an insurance supplement (not an insurance plan) that gives its members access to telemedicine and discounted health services.

CEO Shaun Young calls it healthcare for the digital generation.

“We’re really going after a younger person,” he says. “We want to help people stay healthy.”

Two affordable plans give Ardina subscribers access to additional healthcare services that round out their high-deductible pans.

For $10/month individuals have access to telemedicine with licensed doctors, prescription discounts and a prescription price-checker tool.

“The membership that starts at $10 covers an entire household,” Young adds.

Telemedince offers both speed and convenience when it comes to basic medical issues. For example, Young says many women know when they have a UTI but the process of going to the doctor then getting the necessary prescriptions can waste an entire day. With Ardina’s access to telemedicine services, a woman can explain her symptoms and speak with a physician and be issued a prescription to pick up at her own convenience all in about 15 minutes.

A $20/month plan includes the benefits of the $10 plan, plus discounted rates on services like urgent care, dental, vision, labs and chiropractic. It’s essentially giving individuals access to the same in-network rates a person who was connected with a large employer would receive without actually working there.

Say it costs $100 for a teeth cleaning without insurance, but only $50 with.

“[We’re] giving Ardina members access to those discounted rates that were pre-negotiated by insurers,” Young says. “Most healthcare professionals contract with major insurance carriers so they are already in the network and accepting those rates.”

While this obviously seems like an advantage for patients, Young says he has been pleasantly surprised at how on-board healthcare providers have been. While it’s a discounted rate, they are getting paid day-of for services, and with less paperwork. Young explains that instead of sending a claim in through insurance, a patient will pay the predetermined rate right after their visit. And, more patients will probably visit if they can access discounted rates.

Ardina’s development highlights the unique ways that large companies can get involved with startups. Young was employed with local healthcare giant Cardinal Health until December.

“I really wanted to try my hand as a startup,” Young says of his departure. But it wasn’t the end of the relationship. Cardinal Health provided an investment and and strategic partnership for Ardina, leveraging their brand, network and ideas, yet allowing Young to still make decisions as the CEO of the startup.

“The experiment we’re doing is how to do innovation outside big companies,” Young says. Healthcare is changing faster than he’s ever seen (he has 20 years of experience in the field), and says Cardinal knows it needs to change even faster, or be left behind. Sometimes that innovation is better done inside a company, and sometimes out.

“There are sometimes business models that don’t fit inside of an existing infrastructure,” Young says. “That’s when it makes sense to sit outside of the big companies.”

Ardina launches this week and aims to build a Central Ohio audience before turning on the marketing and taking the solution nationwide. There’s two main groups the startup is focused on for the membership – individuals and small businesses. Young hopes that small businesses and other startups could offer Ardina as some sort of supplement to employees’ insurance.

So far, the product has been met with positive reception and support.

“What’s been amazing is how receptive and supportive the Columbus community has been,” Young says.

While they may not have faced some of the traditional challenges of startups like funding, building awareness is always a hurdle. Another, and one of their biggest obstacles, is unique to the industry.

“The other challenge will always be around explaining because healthcare is such a confusing system,” Young says. “That education is one of the biggest challenges.”

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