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Community Highlights: Meet Sidney Haitoff of Mishe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sidney Haitoff.

Hi Sidney, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My story starts at age seven. My dad would take me to work with him at the medical billing company he had just started. Work ethic was important to my parents, who both came from nothing, so I was introduced to work at a young age. I would perform menial tasks like tearing edges off claim forms and stuffing envelopes. I got paid for it, so I was happy. Two years prior, while in the first grade, I got in trouble for selling Halloween candy to my classmates, so I think this was my parents’ way of introducing me to the “proper” way of making money. Selling Jolly Ranchers for $1 was far more profitable (and fun), but working with my dad kept me busy and gave me a great sense of pride.

Fast forward to my junior year of college at NYU. I was in an internship I didn’t care much for when my dad asked me to return to work with him. At that point, I was hesitant and wanted to pave my own path, but he was persistent, and I gave in. Very early on, I noticed a lot of inefficiency and opportunity for improvement, both within his operation and the billing side of the industry as whole. It was the year after the HITECH ACT of 2009 passed, and an influx of government incentive money was pumped into the healthcare industry in an attempt to get doctors to adopt electronic health record systems (EHRs). I had always been savvy with computers and technology, so I saw opportunity and dove headfirst into mastering EHR software. Despite graduating from a finance program known for churning out investment bankers, I followed my gut and joined my dad’s company full time after graduating in 2011. I built out our EHR service offering and helped attract new business by helping physician clients adopt and optimize EHR technology in their offices.

Coming fresh out of NYU’s Stern Business School program, I was also tapped to help direct company strategy, and in the process, was introduced to payer (insurance) contracts. I immediately noticed a huge discrepancy between the billed charge that doctors send on invoices (claims) to insurance companies and the contracted rate that they actually accept as payment from those insurance companies. The contracted rate, or what I call “the true cost of care,” is usually anywhere from 20-65% less than the billed charge. The billed charge is what people see on surprise bills and represents an inflated amount that is used to maximize reimbursement from insurance carriers that doctors do not have contracts with. Without a contract, a doctor does not “participate” with the insurance carrier, is not in the insurance carrier’s network, and is not bound to contracted rates (often referred to as ‘negotiated’ or ‘discounted’ rates). “Non-participating” or “out-of-network” doctors miss out on the built-in demand that an insurance network offers, but they benefit from payment at the inflated billed charge. Not participating with an insurance plan removes the cap on the reimbursement that doctors usually negotiate in return for the demand. The cap is what protects consumers from surprise bills, which contribute to over 60% of bankruptcies in the US.

I wanted to create a way that helps everyone, even those without access to insurance, access quality care at affordable and transparent prices, without fear of surprise bills. Thus, the idea for mishe Pay-As-You-Go Healthcare™ was born. mishe (pronounced mih-shee) is short for mi sheberach, a prayer for healing. I started mishe to help bring healing to healthcare. We help doctors set cash-pay prices for the services they offer that reflect the discounted rates they accept from insurance carriers. Those prices are published transparently on our marketplace, where people shop for care and pay upfront on the platform, just like they would on online marketplaces in other industries. The marketplace is totally free for consumers and we are offering a free trial period for doctors as we build our network and prove market fit. With upfront payment, doctors forgo expensive billing costs and often pass the savings along to consumers. That is why prices on our marketplace are often better than what you would pay going through insurance.

It took me ten years – and the never-ending support and encouragement from my family and friends – to put my idea into motion, but the industry has never needed it more than today. mishe has already welcomed more than 125 providers across seven specialties to the marketplace in just three months of active recruitment in San Diego. We are continuing to build out our provider network and plan to offer a full suite of essential medical services to our community and other major metropolitan areas across the country. I am also very proud to announce mishe’s Fund the Care Initiative, which will provide funding for underserved members of our community to access care offered on the marketplace at no cost. I’m chasing my dream of fixing our broken healthcare system and I could not be more hyped.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Haha, no way. Every day brings new challenges. We are working to bring fundamental and transformative change to our country’s largest industry, so it is to be expected. Our number one struggle is and will continue to be educating the public about this alternative way to access care. Pay-As-You-Go Healthcare is here to stay and can save consumers thousands of dollars each year. You may be wondering why I keep referring to people as “consumers” and not “patients.” I reject the word “patient” because I’m done being patient waiting for change in healthcare.

mishe’s mission is to increase access to affordable care, so we appreciate any and every opportunity to get the word out. We are doing what we can to establish the trust of the community and show people that there is a better and more affordable way to access care. Until we hit critical mass, it will be an uphill battle. Thankfully, I am very accustomed to working through and overcoming adversity and have come to love and live by the phrase, “nobody cares, work harder.”

We’ve been impressed with Mishe, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
mishe (pronounced mih-shee) – short for mi sheberach, a prayer for healing – is a D2C SaaS marketplace startup disrupting the $3.5 trillion healthcare sector, and bringing healing to our country, by changing the way everyone accesses and pays for medical care. We’re transforming the industry from a system of delays and denials, to a system of equity and access, and moving from surprises to transparency.

mishe’s Pay-As-You-Go Healthcare™ marketplace helps the community shop for and purchase medical care without insurance and connects people directly with quality, local, licensed medical providers based on affordable, transparent pricing without insurance companies as the middleman.

mishe is free for consumers, who benefit from access to care at transparent cash-pay prices – often cheaper than going through insurance – and freedom from conventional insurance coverage constraints. Providers enjoy a risk-free trial while benefiting from increased demand, upfront payment, and no billing costs. Think of us as the Etsy of healthcare.

We are first movers in this space and hope to work with all independent clinicians in San Diego (and beyond) to help achieve #healthcareforall. We are also a proudly black-owned business and hope to offer a source of support and inspiration to all marginalized communities in San Diego and the greater United States.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
Books: Zero to One, The Lean Startup, Where Does It Hurt?, An American Sickness, The Healing of America, The Price We Pay, Delivering Happiness, The Sales Acceleration Formula, Can’t Hurt Me, Leadership and Self-Deception.

Podcasts: How I Built This, Freakonomics Radio, The Daily, The Future of Everything, Masters of Scale, Marketplace Tech.

Apps: Spotify, Audible, MLB.TV (Go Yankees), Trello, AllTrails, Strava, Peloton, Kindle, News, MarketWatch.

Blogs: The Hustle, DailyOm, Healthcare Dive, GFDA.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
FoxHouse Media

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