Sesame raises $24M to expand cash-pay marketplace for healthcare services

Sesame launched in 2019 to connect patients to in-person and virtual care using a direct-pay model.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a massive uptick in virtual care, Sesame has grown 25 times in the past year and added over 1,000 new providers to its platform across all 50 states, according to the company.

The startup pulled in $24 million in new financing backed by new investors Giant Ventures, Industry Ventures and Coefficient Capital. Existing investors General Catalyst, Entree Capital and Atreides Management have also contributed additional funds to help Sesame scale.

The latest funding brings Sesame’s total capital raised to just under $50 million since its founding two years ago.

Sesame will use the fresh capital to strengthen its marketplace and expand its nationwide telehealth offerings and in-person care. 

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The company also announced it is launching prescription medication delivery this month, giving cash-pay patients convenient access to affordable medication.

David Goldhill, a business executive and healthcare reform advocate, founded Sesame to help connect patients and providers directly, providing clear, affordable prices and transparent descriptions of services.

Goldhill, who served as president and CEO of cable television network GSN, authored a cover story in The Atlantic in 2009 titled "How American healthcare killed my father" as well as a follow-up book that offers an analysis of the U.S. healthcare system.

Goldhill currently serves as chair of The Leapfrog Group, the nation’s leading advocate for healthcare transparency.

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Sesame's direct-pay solution allows uninsured or underinsured patients—as well as those with high-deductible health plans—to find affordable quality care. It allows providers to set clear and transparent prices, receive payment upfront, list hours that are most convenient for them and connect with patients virtually or in person, according to the company.

“Only radical simplicity will fix a complex system like healthcare,” Goldhill said in a statement. “Right now, the healthcare industry works really well if you’re an insurance company or a hospital. But not if you’re a patient or a doctor. We’re changing that every single time a patient finds, books, and pays for care directly on Sesame.”

The company services include telehealth visits for prescription refills, mental health consults, dermatology consults, COVID-19 screenings and emergency care consults.

In January, Sesame teamed up with IT vendor NantHealth on a program designed to give providers tools to offer patients direct access to virtual care. The companies said the program also increases practice revenue by reducing administrative costs.

Cameron McLain, managing partner of Giant Ventures, said in a statement, “What the Sesame team has built in the last year has the promise to completely transform the direct-pay healthcare space. U.S. healthcare has historically been defined by exclusivity and complexity. Sesame is our best shot at changing that as they build a healthcare ecosystem defined by quality, inclusivity, and broad accessibility for all.”