The Story Behind Plum: Reinventing Health Insurance And Healthcare For Employees
India is a country with one of the lowest health insurance penetration, with only 18% of people in urban areas and 14% in rural areas covered under any kind of health insurance scheme. We have one of the highest out-of-pocket spending and an enormous unmet need in healthcare, with only 2% of total healthcare expenditure in India is currently covered by insurance providers.
We believe the Indian market is poised to leapfrog ahead of the developed markets & create innovative health insurance products that are yet not available in advanced markets. The Indian government has taken initiatives like Ayushman Bharat to provide free health coverage at the secondary and tertiary level to India’s bottom 40% poor and vulnerable population. But that leaves the rest 60% of the population uncovered by the government. There are only two solutions for this section of the population: either they buy insurance for themselves, or their employers buy it for them.
If we look at any developed market, we would notice that health insurance is largely sponsored by either the employers, or the government, or a mix of both. We believe India too would reach that state in the next decade or two. By then, the entire 1.4 billion population of India would have some sort of health insurance coverage. The government would cover about 500 million lives, the companies would cover another 600-700 million lives, and the rest of the 200 million population would have their own coverage.
However, India is not yet prepared for this leap. The retail health insurance market witnessed radical innovation towards product & process in the last decade, thanks to PolicyBazaar and Coverfox initially, and Digit and Acko later. On the contrary, the group health insurance market, which has almost 2.5x the number of lives being covered, and 25% year over year growth, has been innovating rather incrementally in the last two decades.
Try setting up a group health insurance for your company, and you will understand what we mean. It would take you over 60 days to figure out a health insurance plan, get pricing, make a payment, and get a policy. That is, if you are a company with 100s of employees and the insurer is ready to spend time with you. If you are a company with say 10 employees, well, good luck getting one!
Even once you are able to spend your two months to set up the health insurance, you would have to constantly spend your time and energy on managing the cover as you hire employees. You also end up becoming a Support Desk for your team when it comes to answering questions related to insurance. And even after doing all this, your employees will be in a constant state of confusion about what their insurance covers and how to use the insurance.
When we started Plum, we met many organizations who had a desire to set up really good health insurance for their employees but got stuck in the above process and decided to abort.
With Plum, we started questioning every aspect of the group health insurance market. Why can’t we give group health insurance to companies as small as 7 employees? What is the reason behind such high variations in pricing, even if you are taking the same policy for the same demography? Why do brokers add a buffer as much as 100%, and leave it to negotiation? Can’t we have a concept of MRP for group insurance? Can’t we provide real-time pricing to companies instead of making them wait for 1-2 weeks? Why does it take 2 weeks to issue a policy? Why do I need to wait for the end of the month to add my new employees to the cover? And many more.
With Plum, we are imaging and co-creating group health insurance products from ground-up. We are on a mission to fix health insurance and health benefits. So, we are building a modern health benefits company that understands the needs of a corporate and guides them to smart choices. We are improving health benefits by providing employers & employees with more flexibility, transparent pricing, and higher quality healthcare experience. Plum combines modern technology with robust processes to deliver unprecedented simplicity & efficiency.
With Plum, companies don’t need to negotiate with brokers & agents. Plum provides comprehensive health benefits including doctor consultations, health check-ups, fitness & yoga, mental wellness, nutrition, and dental care. Plum enables modern experience for employees with guided claims support.
We launched Plum’s beta product in March, and instantly saw a pull from the market. Since the early beta release, we have onboarded over 100 companies. These companies include startups like Fampay, StayAbode, Posist, Jiny, RevvSales, Swiflearn, The Label Life, and GrowFit, MNCs like Twilio, Instawork, and Livongo, and traditional companies like Lambda Group, Sunidhi Group, Rosmerta Group.
What’s common about all of these companies? Each one of them wanted a great health cover for their team, affordable pricing, and great product experience.
To fuel our vision, we recently raised ₹7 crores in seed funding. The round was led by Incubate Fund, one of the largest Japan-based seed investors with deep experience in insurance. Early-stage investors, Gemba Capital and Tracxn Labs participated in the round. The round also included angel investors like Abhijit Gupta and Ram Sahasranam who were founders of Praxify Health that were acquired by AthenaHealth (leading provider of network-enabled services & mobile apps for medical groups & health systems in the US), Alvin Tse who was an angel investor in Zenefits and saw Zenefits grow from very close quarters, Sudheendra Chilappagari who was a co-founder of Belong.co, world's first SaaS-based Outbound Hiring Platform that helps companies discover, engage and hire great talent, and Nitin Jayakrishnan, founder of Pando, a fast-growing, Series A funded Enterprise SaaS business.
We plan to use the funding to scale the business to scale through innovative distribution channels and build engineering teams to solve some of the hardest engineering challenges in insurtech.
The group health insurance market in India is expected to grow to INR 100,000 crores by 2025. With Plum, we want to enable each and every company in India to provide high-quality health cover to their employees, no matter how small or big they are. We want to be the de-facto platform for employee health insurance, initially in India, and later in other developing markets like SE Asia and Latam.