Urbanspoon Co-Founder Hates Insurance Shopping, Creates New Search Service

What’s a technology entrepreneur do when facing the head-slappingly opaque process of shopping for individual health insurance coverage? Get to work hacking together a solution.

That’s what gave rise to PickHealthInsurance, a new online search service developed by Urbanspoon co-founder Adam Doppelt.

PickHealthInsurance is a side project—Doppelt is hard at work on Dwellable, which helps people find vacation rentals. “If people love the app and traffic is through the roof, I could monetize it later. My skills are really more around product building, though,” he says via email.

The insurance-shopping that led to the project came about because Doppelt’s COBRA was nearing expiration, part of his transition back to being a full-time entrepreneur after working at IAC, which bought Urbanspoon in 2009. As he wrote on Hacker News, Doppelt nearly bought a family plan that would have included a $20,000 deductible for maternity coverage, something he discovered too late in the process.

“I figured I could build something better, that would offer the details up front. I wanted to start presenting rates immediately, even if they were approximate,” Doppelt says. “Why should it be so hard? I have the skills, I just needed the time.”

There’s a big player in the market already: Ehealthinsurance.com, which is actually licensed to market and sell insurance and has partnerships with lots of insurance providers. Doppelt says that in this sector, “all roads lead to ehealthinsurance. Every other site that claims to offer rates is just an affiliate. But their site is slow and dated, and the plans’ details are squirreled away in difficult to reach places.”

PickHealthInsurance is a much more slimmed-down site by comparison in this early release version. The front page allows shoppers to narrow plans down by age, ZIP code, whether it’s for a single person, couple, or family, and whether you use tobacco, with more detailed information on individual plans after it jumps to the results.

One funny note: I think all of the results in the test search I tried actually redirected me back to Ehealthinsurance.com if I wanted to purchase. Doppelt says he’s getting all of the health plan data by crawling the Web, not through any direct relationships with insurers (this was put together in a few weekends, after all).

Trending on Xconomy