Medication might be easier than exercise or eating right, but TrueMed wants to change your thinking on that.
Calley Means and Justin Mares started the payment integration company last year to make it easy for consumers to pay for healthy food, exercise and supplements using their tax-free health savings accounts or flexible spending account dollars. And with regulatory compliance.
Typically, medical expense purchases like that are approved with a letter of medical necessity from your doctor upon collection of certain data. TrueMed’s secret sauce is that, thanks to telehealth laws that resulted from the global pandemic, it can collect that information and produce those notes seamlessly and asynchronously without the doctor’s visit.
“Our long-term goal is to attack the notion that 95% of dollars are spent on interventions after people get sick,” Means told TechCrunch. “We're going to go bankrupt from healthcare costs, and we're becoming a non-competitive country because we're getting so sick. We have to ask how you can actually use your healthcare dollars to incentivize metabolic habits: Food, exercise, the food movement, sleep and supplements, to stay healthy.”
TrueMed launches today with $3 billion of gross merchandise volume already amassed from businesses, including CrossFit, Magic Mind and Kos.
If both Means’ and Mares’ names look familiar it’s because they are both serial entrepreneurs. Means previously co-founded wedding dress company Anomalie with his wife, Leslie Voorhees, which sold to David’s Bridal last year. Meanwhile, Mares previously founded health food brands Kettle & Fire and Perfect Keto.
Together they have raised $100 million for previous ventures. With TrueMed, they have raised $3.5 million in SAFEs (simple agreement for future equity) from investors, including functional medicine pioneer Mark Hyman and founders from Thrive Market, Eight Sleep and Levels.
Before starting the company, Means said he and Mares met with representatives from the White House and Capitol Hill to validate the compliance.
For Means, TrueMed is also a way to pay homage to his mother, who recently died of a preventable disease tied to food, and to his physician sister, Casey Means, co-founder of Levels, who specializes in metabolic health.
“This is widening HSA/FSA to items it doesn't usually cover, and we’ve done a huge amount of engagement,” Means said. “Our insight is opening it up to a wider range of health and wellness products through the telehealth integration.”
Unlocking the dollars
Means calls these types of savings accounts “a really powerful instrument” and estimates there is about $140 billion sitting in these accounts, mostly going unused. Earlier this year, the IRS increased the amount you can contribute to health savings accounts to $4,150 for an individual and $8,300 for a family.
So how do you unlock that? TrueMed’s business model is to partner with health and wellness brands. It is the only approved Shopify payment integration, according to Means. Once approved, TrueMed integrates with the merchant’s checkout systems.
Consumers who choose to pay by that method will be asked a couple of health questions after inputting the HSA/FSA information. TrueMed then goes to a provider asynchronously who issues a letter of medical necessity, if appropriate.
“You're basically doing a healthcare intake, similar to a credit intake, and are able to pay right into payment flow with your HSA/FSA funds,” Means said. “That's the key that we're doing. We're adding a telehealth component into the payment flow for leading health and wellness brands and widening HSA/FSA to items it doesn't usually cover.”
Up next, the company will continue adding merchants to its customer base as it works to steer money toward consumers adopting healthier habits. As the fourth quarter approaches, Means said some 80% of Americans qualify for a HSA or FSA and will be choosing their contributions.
He will be among them, telling TechCrunch that for the first time, his family maxed out their HSA and will be using it to purchase things to keep himself, Voorhees and their child healthy.
“We want people to start seeing their HSA and FSA accounts as tools to direct them to items for staying healthy,” Means said. “Our message is that food and exercise is medicine and can be prescribed.”