Oral health startup Quip took the dental world by storm nearly five years ago when the company launched its subscription-based electric toothbrush service. This service combined convenience with care, as the subscription would replace toothpaste and brush heads, ensuring that customers didn’t exceed the recommended three-month lifespan of a toothbrush. With the ultimate goal of providing an end-to-end solution to make preventative care simpler still in sight, Quip recently announced it will launch a dental insurance alternative for customers in New York City this summer.
Known as Quipcare, the service is meant to modernize the traditional dental care experience. According to Quip CEO Simon Enever, the company believes that it can bring the seamlessness of using a smartphone to do everyday tasks to the dental industry. With Quipcare, you’ll be able to book an appointment to join the 3 million people with dental implants as easily as you order Indian food to be delivered to your front door. The plan will also make prices more transparent, allowing users to know exactly how much they’ll need to pay before they go in for the treatment.
By acquiring dental insurance alternative startup Afora last May, Quip has been able to operate Quipcare on the back of a pre-existing alternative insurance structure.
“The truth is, we’ve really been working on this since day zero of Quip as a whole. The Afora acquisition last year was very much an accelerator,” said Enever.
In the recent launch, there are two tiers of service Quipcare provides. The first is basic Quipcare, which uses a pay-as-you-go model. The Quipcare app, which is free to download for Quip members, includes a search function for users to find dental services in a given area. According to Quip, the rates for these services are set at about 30% to 40% less than an area’s average rates. Members can book an appointment with a dental professional, pay for their visit, and view their dental records all through the app.
It’s important to note that the services with basic Quipcare are for non-preventative care. This form of care includes services that remedy an existing health issue, such as periodontal disease. An estimated 47% of adults in America have periodontal disease and need professional dental services in order to treat it. As services like these often fall outside of a traditional dental insurance plan, Enever believes Quipcare is a great option for those who already have dental insurance as well as those without it.
The other level of service is called Quipcare+. This is a preventative care plan that costs $25 per month. For the body, preventative care means that you maintain a healthy diet to get the right nutrients, see your doctor regularly, and do over seven hours of physical activity every week to have a longer life expectancy. In dentistry, preventative care usually encompasses brushing and flossing every day and going to regular check-ups. The Quipcare+ plan includes two preventative check-ups annually as well as x-rays to ensure your teeth are in tip-top shape.
While this plan is designed for people who don’t have dental insurance, Quipcare+ is not necessarily cheaper. Many employers and even some state governments offer dental insurance plans for less than $20 per month. What Quipcare does provide is an unbeatable convenience for people to find a dental professional near them and book a same-day appointment.
A recent study published in the journal Research on Aging found that as American adults 50 and over age, their use of dental services declines. Bei Wu, a co-author of the study and a professor of nursing at New York University, says that cost could be one factor. When older adults have to live on a fixed income, paying for chronic health conditions or illnesses often take priority over oral health. Wu also said that transportation could be another complication for aging adults, as well as declining cognitive function.
To overcome these last two barriers, Quipcare might be the answer. The ease of booking a dental service close to home could make dental care much more accessible. With an estimated 14.1 million people aged 85 and above living in the U.S. by 2040, establishing these alternative insurance structures now could mean better care for America’s future senior citizens.
Quipcare will launch in New York City this summer and Quip plans to roll it out more broadly next year.