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Philippine Health Start-up Seeks to Expand Presence with Fresh Funding

For SMEs wanting access to reliable and quality healthcare, Maria Health has got you covered

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BY Marishka M. Cabrera - 04 Dec 2017

Philippine Health Start-up Seeks to Expand Presence with Fresh Funding

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Philippine start-up Maria Health believes it is in a better position to beef up operations in the region after securing additional investments to help expand its presence in the country. Along with funding raised from Silicon Valley angel investors, and with previous initial investments, Maria Health has raised its total capital to $650,000.

One of the more prominent companies now backing Maria Health is Singaporean-based VC firm Wavemaker Partners, which recently raised a $65-million fund targeting Southeast Asian companies. Its advisory board includes Dado Banatao, Filipino-American engineer and entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper.

Maria Health is an online health exchange platform, which aims to provide small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines easier access to healthcare coverage. It was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Vincent Lau, after he realized that SMEs in the Philippines have a hard time getting health insurance for their employees. From there, he identified three common problems: getting delayed feedback from health maintenance organizations (HMO), not having the expertise to do negotiations, and lastly, not being able to determine the best packages for their staff.

It seemed that the best solution was to create a one-stop shop to manage the healthcare needs of SMEs and their employees. According to a media release, “Maria Health provides instant quotes, unbiased guidance, and 24/7 support to buyers. By pooling its buyers, Maria Health is able to aggregate small businesses into one large, risk-adjusted pool so they have access to the same quality healthcare, same benefits, and same competitive rates that larger companies enjoy.”

On the side of healthcare providers, the company partners with HMOs and provides them with a direct-to-consumer channel to grow their business, Lau says. To date, the company has partnered with Asianlife, Lifeline, MediCard, PhilCare, and Maxicare, among others.

At present, Maria Health services more than 60 SMEs, enabling them to draw insights from over 2,000 Filipino employees. The company also offers prepaid cards that give individuals the flexibility to choose and only pay for specific services depending on their budget and needs.

As a relatively new player, Maria Health looks to prominent entrepreneurs Paul Rivera, founder of job-matching site Kalibrr, and Farouk Meralli of mClinica for advice in growing the business.

Forging new partnerships

Lau recently participated in the reality TV show, “The Final Pitch”, where he met Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, Chairman and CEO of The Sterling Group of Companies, and Jose “JoMag” Magsaysay, co-founder of Potato Corner. Both are staunch supporters of SMEs in the Philippines.

Lim Bon Liong and Magsaysay both invested a sizeable amount into Maria Health.

“We see one of the constraints of growth and economic development for the average Filipino is access to healthcare, and Maria Health provides a solution to that. At the same time, we’re very interested in investing into healthcare given its potential to impact the lives of the common Filipino. It is because of these that we decided to invest into the company,” Magsaysay says in a statement.

Maria Health has also partnered with Ayala Health to achieve their common mission of redefining healthcare.  Ayala Health recently launched FamilyDOC, the first 3-in-1 community-based clinic that offers the combined services of high-quality primary care, a diagnostic facility, and a pharmacy.

“FamilyDOC’s (AC Health) goal is to make quality healthcare more accessible and affordable for Filipino families by bringing its services closer to middle-income communities. As we expand by opening more clinics, we want to make sure that we are accessible both physically and digitally. Which is why we believe that Maria Health can connect us faster and easier to the communities we are in,” says KC De Leon, Sales & Marketing Manager of FamilyDOC, in a statement.

Moving forward, Maria Health plans to further expand its partnerships to offer more products and services that fill the gaps traditional HMOs and current plans do not cover.