Nathan Hackley (computer) and Will Young, co-founders of Sana Benefits, photo by Errich Petersen

Sana Benefits moved to Austin a year ago from the San Francisco Bay area with a focus on disrupting the insurance industry and providing healthcare coverage for small to medium-sized businesses.

 “We had this idea for how to fix small business health insurance and the barriers to starting it California were really high,”  said Will Young is the Co-Founder and CEO of Austin-based SANA Benefits, a healthcare insurance technology startup.

“But when you looked at which states were most inviting of innovation in insurance, Texas is number one on the list,” Young said. “The regulators here are really excited to welcome new models and new forms of competition.”

“Once we spent some time in Austin, we fell in love, so it was an easy decision,” Young said.

Austin is much more livable than San Francisco these days, he said. Young talks about the challenges the healthcare industry faces and how Sana is working to provide more affordable care to small to medium-sized businesses during this episode of the Ideas to Invoices podcast.

Young founded the company with Nathan Hackley in 2017. The two formerly worked together at Justworks, a benefit and payroll company in New York.

Since moving to Austin, SANA Benefits has grown dramatically from less than 10 employees to almost 40. The company also recently closed on $ 3.6 million in seed-stage venture funding. And it moved from a small office at WeWork Barton Springs into much larger headquarters at Manchaca and Slaughter Lane in South Austin. It used the Austin-based startup, Swivel, to find the real estate space to accommodate its growth, Young said.

Sana Benefits is providing an alternative to other big insurance providers like Aetna, Blue Cross, United Health and others. It competes with them by providing insurance that is, on average, 30 percent cheaper, Young said.

“In terms of the value we deliver to people, we save them a lot of money,” Young said. “We also just think about how to serve our members differently. We treat them like human beings. We answer the phone when they call. And if they want to see a doctor that is out of the network. We go and get their doctor into the network. We are running this health plan the way we would want it to be run where it is oriented around serving the needs of members.”

Sana targets companies that have between five and 500 employees that offer health insurance to its employees, Young said. It gets the word out about its product through podcasts, digital ads, billboards, events and by calling small and medium-sized companies, he said.

The healthcare industry needs disruption, Young said. The U.S. is last among the world’s developed nations in providing healthcare to its citizens and it used to be number one. The U.S. has an immense bureaucratic and complex healthcare industry that charges people different rates for service depending on who is paying, Young said.

The cost of care has climbed massively in the last decade, Young said. Companies are raising deductibles for employees to make the plans more affordable, he said. They are shifting the risk to the members, he said.

Meanwhile, the patient providers are losing the human touch, Young said. And hospitals are increasingly suing patients to collect on huge bills.

Sana can’t fix everything but it’s working with its customers to navigate the bureaucratic system and provide the best care for its members, Young said.

For more on SANA and Young’s entrepreneurial experience, listen to the entire podcast. Also, please rate and review our Ideas to Invoices podcast on iTunes and support Silicon Hills News by becoming a patron on our Patreon site.