Written by Jerred Ziegler.
Ardina, based in Columbus, Ohio, is aiming to become the AAA of health insurance. Instead of roadside assistance and travel discounts, Ardina acts as a supplement to health insurance plans. The company allows people with high out-of-pocket healthcare costs to pay only $10 or $20 a month, with no deductible, and still receive quality care.
“While a lot of insurance plans cover wellness visits, customers are still left having to pay out-of-pocket anytime they visit an urgent care or have to make an emergency visit to their primary physician,” said Stephanie Murnen, chief customer officer and co-founder of Ardina. “We offer a network of doctors who are available on the phone or online 24/7 so our customers can get the medical attention or prescriptions they need, without having to pay a deductible.”
Murnen and Ardina’s CEO and co-founder Shaun Young decided to start their company after looking at the health insurance plans they were offered at their old jobs. Both had high deductibles, with Young paying $7,000 out-of-pocket before his insurance would cover the rest. They knew there had to be a way to help people with these astronomical costs.
A monthly Ardina membership can work for people with a high deductible plan or no health coverage at all. This includes small business employees, freelancers and independent contractors. The company locates network physicians in each customer’s area via zip code and helps them shop for the lowest prescription prices. Customers who visit physicians in the Ardina network can also receive discounts on dental exams, eyeglasses and chiropractic visits. The Ardina discount card can be used in conjunction with any insurance plan, either on services not covered by their insurance or on family members not covered by the plan.
In the fall of 2015, Ardina received a concept investment from Rev1 Ventures, a central Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. This investment helped the company validate its space in the healthcare market, identify its target customer base, and begin sales and marketing efforts. Ardina’s offices are currently located within Rev1.
“We get really great services by working with Rev1,” said Young. “They offer opportunities to connect with mentors, plus we have access to startup friendly lawyers, accountants, designers and developers. This type of assistance really helps an early stage company stretch its dollars.”
Ardina is working on attracting new customers, expanding their broker network and increasing their brand awareness. While the service works nationally, Ardina is currently focusing on the Columbus market and hopes to expand to other cities in early 2016.
Both Young and Murnen have lived in Columbus for years, and say it’s the ideal place to start a new business.
“This city is full of thought-leaders. It’s backed by a strong, growing entrepreneurial community, and countless national brands from a wide range of industries,” said Murnen. “Columbus is the test market for America for big brands like Wendy’s and Wal-Mart. If you make a company that works here, it’s likely going to work anywhere.”