Dave Francis is the CEO and co-founder of Healthpilot. For three decades, Dave has been at the forefront of leveraging information technology in the healthcare market to improve the customer experience. Healthpilot has developed its Medicare insurance enrollment platform to meet the specific needs of financial advisors and their clients.

Russ Alan Prince: Tell me a little about Healthpilot. Why did you start the company?

Dave Francis: We started Healthpilot to tackle one of the most daunting issues facing retirees across the country—how to confidently and easily enroll in the best Medicare plan for them, given their health and economic needs. It is a major decision for virtually every one of the 65 million seniors in the US today. Yet our statistics indicate that 9 in 10 retirees are in a plan that costs them hundreds of dollars per year more than it should and covers less than they require. Moreover, being in the wrong Medicare plan can have devastating consequences for a well-constructed financial plan should a major health event occur. Medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy and financial distress for retirees in the US.

Our online platform solves all of this by understanding what is important to each individual customer—their doctors, medications, how they use health care, what their financial situation is—and uses sophisticated algorithms to recommend the best plan to meet each customer’s needs. Using our online system, each customer confidently sees which Medicare plan is right for them, what is covered, and how much they save and enrolls in that plan in less than fifteen minutes. And our platform stays connected to each customer, doing this work for them every year so they never have to worry about the right Medicare plan again. Healthpilot is free to the client and free to our advisor partners.

Prince: What are some of the challenges that individuals have when navigating through Medicare options?  

Francis: What challenges don’t they face? Medicare is among the most complex, confusing, opaque markets, but is also one of the most consequential decisions a retiree is faced with. There are no sources of truth to figure it out, and there are hundreds of product options to choose from. Typically, a retiree will consult with a commission-based sales agent, either in person or over the phone, who will “sell” a customer a plan that seems to fit their needs without any data-driven needs assessment or focus on what is truly best for the customer. These high-pressure sales tactics lead to significant customer complaints, cancellation of Medicare insurance policies, and a customer experience that goes back to what I mentioned earlier…people paying too much for plans that don’t provide the right coverage for their needs.

A few statistics paint an even clearer picture. The NPS score for Medicare brokers among new retirees is -50…that’s negative fifty. For those who have been in retirement for a few years and have experienced the Medicare process, that NPS score improves to a whopping negative 15…cable television providers have a better reputation. This experience leads 7-in-10 retirees to simply not shop for better Medicare options…it is such a bad process that they would rather not deal with it at all.

Prince: What are the Medicare solutions, if any, that financial advisors can use to help their clients?

Francis: That’s a great question. Until we launched Healthpilot, financial advisors typically avoided Medicare discussions altogether. Though their retiree clients often ask for help with this critical decision, advisors do not have the knowledge or regulatory licenses to help their clients in the way they need. At best, they would refer their retired clients to a Medicare broker, not knowing if the client was getting good service. Further, those Medicare brokers often turn around and try to sell financial products and services to that referral client. It is a meaningful point of relational pain and economic leakage for the advisor.

An important data point for advisors…a recent study by Sage Growth Partners indicated that only 2% of retirees receive Medicare insurance advice from their financial advisor. However, when asked if they would use a service like Healthpilot’s if it was referred to them by their advisor, nearly 85% of these clients said with confidence that they would use it. The incremental value that Healthpilot creates for advisors in meeting the needs of their retiree clients is unique and large.

Prince: Where does Healthpilot fit into this equation and what makes you unique? 

Francis: Our strategic partner, Envestnet, realized the opportunity to solve this issue and is working with Healthpilot to fill this important gap. Healthpilot enables advisors to serve both the wealth and health needs of their clients by referring their retired clients directly to the Healthpilot platform, where they get white glove service and the best Medicare plan recommendation for their needs. 

In addition to serving their client holistically, Healthpilot further enhances the advisor’s practice and workflow by creating a seamless referral pathway from their dashboard or CRM and closes the data loop letting the advisor know what their client’s total health costs are expected to be for financial planning purposes every year. For this to work, the experience must be smooth, easy, friction-free, and confidence-inspiring for all. Healthpilot uniquely checks all those boxes. Healthpilot has truly transformed the Medicare enrollment experience.

The reception we have received from advisors and their clients has been phenomenal, and we are just getting started. Since we launched Healthpilot a year ago, we have not had a single client leave the platform or a single complaint. The opportunities ahead for our advisor partners and their clients to solve this great market need are very exciting for us.

RUSS ALAN PRINCE is the Executive Director of Private Wealth magazine (pw-mag.com) and Chief Content Officer for High-Net-Worth Genius (hnwgenius.com). He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs, and select professionals.