Instead of simply disrupting a category, direct-to-consumer brands are expanding into changing up entire industries.
Two telemedicine direct-to-consumer brands—Ro and Keeps—started the first wave by offering men a different way to get a doctor’s consultation on uncomfortable health issues. Now, Quip, a DTC toothbrush company that’s sold in Target and Walmart, is rolling out two dental care alternative plans called Quipcare and Quipcare+ so consumers can have more of a choice about what they’re paying for—while receiving a discount on the care itself.
“As a company we’re very focused on simplifying things and doing things and offering things that actually make sense to our users when it makes sense to them,” said Simon Enever, Quip CEO. “We always knew and have been building this end-to-end, full-scale oral care companion. If we’re going to help people with oral care we have to help with things that completely connect it.”
The idea for Quipcare came last year when Quip acquired Afora, an alternative dental insurance company. Quip has now built on top of that acquisition, winding down Afora and transitioning it to the two different plans. It’s rolling out in New York first, with a wider national reach planned for 2020. Quipcare functions as a supplement to anyone’s dental plan or to those who are uninsured. Quipcare+ is a dental care plan for the uninsured and those who simply want preventive care.
With Quipcare, anyone can sign up for free and see pre-negotiated rates for dental services outside of preventative care. It’s a pay-as-you-go model that Enever said appeals to people who are uninsured and those who’ve already met their annual limit with insurance, as well as the 7 million people in the U.S. who are already Quip users. It also gives a consumer a better look at different prices, what they’re paying for and why. Before agreeing to a service, Quipcare verifies that a consumer can pay the full amount. Enever said this eliminates the usual process now, where a consumer goes to the dentist and has no idea what the negotiated rates are between the dentist and the insurance company and what’s covered by a co-pay and what’s not. Quipcare+ is the more traditional dental insurance model—and similar to what Afora used to be. Customers pay $25 a month, receive two-checkups a year and can earn rewards based on their visits.
It’s easy to view Quipcare as similar to a service like One Medical, a medical group that offers consumers more modern doctor care, by paying an annual fee and then letting people schedule appointments online and refill prescriptions through an app. Enever said the two services do share the same values of giving consumers a more elevated connection to a provider but, more than that, it wants to make sure both the consumers and providers are winning. Dr. Jason Alster, a second-generation dentist based in New York who’s part of the Quipcare program, said the program benefits both consumers who can “get the care they need” and dentists who are trying to “grow their practice.”
“With the yearly maximum, people wait for the care they need for the following year,” Dr. Alster said. “With Quipcare, it allows them to do what they want when they want it.”
Dipanjan Chatterjee, vp and principal analyst at Forrester, said DTC brands getting into healthcare is “quite common” because of all the shortcomings traditional healthcare has.
“It’s a great way for DTC brands to utilize technology to break the stranglehold of legacy healthcare players on a stagnant system never designed to serve customers,” Chatterjee said. “These insurgent brands have harnessed digital, wrapped it in a whole new way to interact with customers, and disrupted what is a moribund healthcare system.”
For now, Quip is measuring the success of the two dental plans by seeing if it can drive more preventative checkups, as well as how well the platform and the plans are received.
“We are launching the core of what we want to do from the ground up, which is [to] make people think about and use dental care in a whole different way,” Enever said.