Columbus-based Ardina launched last year as the AAA of healthcare, offering a supplement to insurance with access to telemedicine services and discounted rates on dental, vision and prescriptions. Now the healthcare startup is expanding its solutions to provide small businesses, startups and freelancers with connections to affordable health insurance.
Founder Shaun Young saw that many uninsured individuals were signing up for Ardina. Instead of getting insurance they were opting for the discounted rate service.
“They’re not the traditional uninsured that we think of,” he says.
The individuals are young, healthy and working. They don’t have insurance because their employers don’t provide it or they can’t afford it. Young notes that for the uninsured, penalties will continue to rise, maxing out at whichever is less between $695 or 2.5 percent of an individual’s income and $2,080 for families in 2017.
“They didn’t need just that AAA, they needed a lot more,” Young says.
Ardina is partnering with other local businesses to help Central Ohio’s small businesses, startups and freelancers find affordable coverage that is less expensive than what they can find on the exchange. Policies offered through partner CMax Advisors will group these younger professionals together, creating a policy that looks like what a larger employer might offer.
Pricing will vary by age and if a person signs up as an individual or business. Individual rates will be based on the person and groups averaged out.
Along with access to insurance, individuals and businesses will sign up for a customizable suite of services covering many of the processes small businesses struggle with, like HR, payroll and 401k’s. Utilizing the services of other local businesses, basic, intermediate and advanced plans provide assistance with everything from worker’s compensation and unemployment administration, new hire paperwork, and maintaining all employee files, to PTO tracking and reporting, HR tools like an employee handbook and performance evaluation forms, and even HR consulting and support.
Young says that on the exchange, health insurance alone might cost an individual $400 to $450 per month.
“We developed an affordable approach to provide essential support to the small business owner to help them focus on their business,” says Bryan Gilum, founder of partner business CMax Advisors. “Because of our partnership with Ardina, we are able to offer a competitive healthcare plan, 401k plan and HR support for less than $350 per employee per month.”
Ardina membership is also include in the package deal.
Ardina is looking for that target market of small businesses, startups and freelancers for beta testing of the service over the next few months, aiming to make the service available to all in early fall. Once launched, users will be able to sign up at any time and not just during an enrollment period as required by the Affordable Care Act.
Young says that in speaking with small businesses and entrepreneurs, benefits are always a huge barrier. Whether it’s a freelancer that’s afraid to make the leap, or a small business that is having trouble attracting and retaining talent because they don’t offer benefits, “This could be a solution,” he says.
It was keeping Ardina to a local focus that helped the startup see the additional need. Young says they wanted to research and really understand why people are using the product before scaling. Taking that time led Ardina to realize the impact they could have on the young insured. From his experience in the field, Young has always been a believer that if it works in Columbus it can work anywhere.
To learn more, visit myardina.com.