Startup aims to sweeten process of shopping for health insurance

Knowing how challenging it can be for consumers to wade through the options to choose the right health plan, two Harvard graduates came up with a solution--a startup company that uses data analysis to guide individuals' coverage purchases.

Grace Gee, the 21-year-old CEO of HoneyInsured, and her co-founder, Chief Technology Officer Eugene Wang, 25, met at the Ivy League university and developed the idea for the company based on Gee's experience searching for health insurance online, Forbes reports.

Both applied math majors, Gee and Wang recently published a study in a Harvard journal for early research results, Technology Science, that indicated larger insurers increased their rates 75 percent more than smaller ones in the Affordable Care Act health exchanges. These results showed Gee, she tells Forbes, that consumers may be better off choosing "more specific benefits that are relevant to you" at a better price rather than going with one of the major insurers.

Gee and Wang first founded a startup called CoretxML, which aimed to sell tools to companies to make complex data analysis easier, though they struggled to make the venture profitable. Then, they developed HoneyInsured, which Gee says helps consumers find health plans by asking a simpler set of questions than those on the exchanges. It also will offer helpful tools such as a drug-cost estimator.

The company now is one of more than 50 authorized insurance marketplace web brokers, and when it goes live before the next open enrollment period in November, will allow consumers to search for all the plans offered both on and off the exchange. As a broker, the startup will make money on plans purchased though the site.

HoneyInsured is not the only startup to break into the health insurance market. Oscar Insurance has garnered headlines since it burst onto the scene promising perks such as a personalized search engine for its members and mobile-friendly services, FierceHealthPayer has reported.

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