When Peachy’s CEO, Lex Oiler, raised a pre-seed round in December of 2020, investors consistently asked her the same question about another, supposedly competitive, startup:
“How are you going to compete with Walnut?”
“How are you going to compete with Peachy?”
But while investors viewed the two companies as competitors, the two CEOs never saw it that way. While both companies were solving a similar problem–patients’ difficulty paying for medical bills and providers’ difficulty collecting that payment–their approaches differed distinctly. While Walnut set out to offer patients more ethical and accessible financing options, Peachy set out to make the actual payment process faster and easier for patients and providers alike.
So when the CEO counterparts’ paths finally crossed in the summer of 2021, they shared more than a few laughs over their companies’ perceived competition and schemed on how they might work together to further both companies’ respective missions.
Real Problems, Experienced Personally
The problems with medical bills in the United States aren’t much of a secret at this point. Medical bills are expensive, inflexible, and hard to pay. It’s a lose-lose system and a much bigger problem than most realize–as $140 billion of medical debt currently sits in the hands of collection agencies. And as it turns out, both founders experienced the pains of this situation in their personal lives, experiences that drove them to found the companies they currently lead.
As a teenager, Lex’s family was bankrupted by medical debt after she unexpectedly spent six weeks in the hospital. Then, as an adult, Lex again felt the pain of medical bills when a $144 bill slipped through the cracks and was sent to collections, negatively impacting her credit report for years.
It became clear to Lex that there were some serious problems with how patients were being asked to pay for healthcare. First, the inflexibility of payment terms and lack of access to affordable payment plans were driving patients into delinquency, then collections, and eventually into bankruptcy. Secondly, the delivery mechanism for medical bills had long become outdated; in 2020, decades after the advent of email, text messages, and smartphones, providers were still relying on the United States Postal Service to deliver bills to patients, an unpleasant exclamation point on what is often an already painful healthcare experience.
Meanwhile, Roshan also was unfortunate enough to feel the impact of medical bills in his life when a close family member faced a $5,000 bill from an emergency room visit. As Roshan and his family attempted to dispute and negotiate the bill with the hospital, the CEO was struck by just how terrible of an experience the whole ordeal was. Then, when his family member had the bill sent to a collections agency because they couldn’t afford to make payment on the bill, the experience went from terrible to downright dreadful.
Roshan knew there had to be a better way for patients to pay for large medical expenses and for healthcare providers to capture revenue. It was clear that neither party was winning in this scenario.
So the two founders got to work solving their respective sides of the medical debt crisis, with both new companies intent on exchanging the standard of lose-lose outcomes for better solutions that could genuinely be considered a win-win for providers and patients.
Peachy focuses on making the actual bill payment process faster, easier, and more accessible by empowering providers to offer patients a frictionless payment experience. Led by text-and-email-driven billing, Peachy replaces the highly-manual, paper-centric billing process typically found in healthcare with a modern, familiar digital experience reminiscent of booking an Uber. With Peachy, patients can pay bills from the comfort of their phones in just seconds.
On top of that, Peachy tackles the flexibility and accessibility angle by empowering providers to offer patients in-house payment plans. While many providers are willing to offer interest-free payment plans to patients in need, doing so is highly manual and challenging for the providers. Peachy steps in to automate this process for providers, ensuring that providers don’t spend valuable time implementing and administering payment plans.
On the other hand, Walnut focuses on what happens when in-house payment plan options become unfeasible for patients or providers. Patients may successfully receive their bill and have access to a provider’s offered 6-month payment plan, but for larger bills, the monthly payments may simply be too much for a patient to comfortably afford. Some providers are still uncomfortable waiting months and months to receive payment in full via payment plans. The risk is just too great for some, especially when bill sizes are substantial.
This is where Walnut fills the gaping hole currently filled by predatory lenders like CareCredit and LendingClub. Walnut steps in with patient-friendly lending options, which enable patients to stretch payments out over longer terms while simultaneously helping providers quickly collect payment in full. Combining this with ethical collection practices, Walnut allows providers and patients alike to pay for the care that they need in a manner that works for both parties–a win-win.
An Integrated Approach
With these complementary solutions in mind, the two companies are excited to announce that they are combining their strengths to deliver a world-class, integrated bill payment experience to patients. Peachy’s text billing will deliver bills directly to patients’ phones and provide a fast and easy way to either (1) pay the bill in full, (2) sign up for a short-term payment plan, and now (3) apply for financing with Walnut.
This integrated approach provides a comprehensive and seamless patient billing solution to providers while also offering patients the accessibility, flexibility, and optionality they so desperately need in the face of the medical debt crisis.
Peachy and Walnut are excited about this partnership’s ability to expose each company to new customers while simultaneously furthering their respective visions of making paying for healthcare better for patients and providers.
If you’re a provider interested in offering your patients a better payment experience with integrated financing options, get started here. And if you’re a patient who wants to use Peachy or Walnut, refer your provider here and we’ll reach out to them!