Former UnitedHealthcare CEO's tech-savvy payer startup Bright Health raises $80M

By Aditi Pai
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Minneapolis-based tech-savvy payer Bright Health has raised $80 million in a round led by Bessemer Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates (NEA), with participation from Flare Capital Partners.

Bright Health is led by a team of experienced healthcare executives. The company’s CEO Bob Sheehy was previously the CEO of UnitedHealthcare. Kyle Rolfing, Bright Health’s president, is the cofounder of RedBrick Health and UnitedHealth Group company Definity Health. Bright Health Chief Medical Officer Tom Valdivia is also a Definity Health cofounder.

“There’s a better way to better health,” Sheehy said in a statement. “We are realigning the broken payer-provider relationship, focusing on the consumer, and reimagining how technology can simplify the healthcare experience from beginning-to-end. Making that happen and starting a new health plan is no small feat, but we’re confident we have the right team and model to create real and necessary change.”

Bright Health is forming exclusive partnerships with a single health system in each market so that the company can better support the relationship between patients and providers. The payer also claims to offer a more integrated technology experience.

The payer plans to launch in its first market and enroll members for the 2017 plan year. Consumers will be able to purchase plans directly, through brokers as well as public and private health insurance exchanges. Bright Health plans to add additional markets, care provider partnerships, and Medicare Advantage Plans in 2018.

Another venture-backed health insurancy company, Oscar Health, raised $400 million in February. That deal reportedly valued Oscar at $2.7 billion. Oscar aims to differentiate itself with a positive user experience, proactive customer engagement, and an inclination to move beyond the traditional role of the health insurer, which sometimes means incorporating digital health technology. Early on, Oscar partnered with Teladoc to bring telehealth services to members.