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19 May 2022

Ness raises US$15m for health rewards app ahead of credit card launch delivering health insurance in the US
BY Frances Marcellin

The Ness team (L-R): Kenneth So (co-founder and chief experience officer), Christina Gerdes (co-founder and chief medical officer), Derek Flanzraich (CEO and co-founder) and Katherine Lynch (co-founder and head of business operations)

The Ness team (L-R): Kenneth So (co-founder and chief experience officer), Christina Gerdes (co-founder and chief medical officer), Derek Flanzraich (CEO and co-founder) and Katherine Lynch (co-founder and head of business operations)
photo: Ness

Ness, a US startup that is developing a range of wellness-driven credit cards, has launched its first product, the Ness Rewards app, with longer-term plans to deliver health insurance in the US via its credit cards.

The company, founded by Derek Flanzraich, former CEO and founder of health website Greatness has just completed a US$15.5m seed investment round led by Brian Reilly, co-founder and managing partner at Will Ventures.

Along with Flanzraich, the founding team at Ness includes physician and addiction medicine specialist Christina Gerdes (co-founder and chief medical officer); former chief of staff to the COO at Oscar Health, Katherine Lynch (co-founder and head of business operations); and ex-Uber design lead Kenneth So (co-founder and chief experience officer).

Users collect points when they make in-app purchases and redeem them for health and fitness activities delivered by partner companies such as Barry’s, Headspace, Oura, Therabody and Mirror, however, in its next iteration, Ness will expand the reach of the service to reward all healthy actions by users, including fitness activities and physician visits.

This next-level functionality will be made possible through the company’s recent acquisition of WellSet, a 4,000-person nationwide network of health and wellness practitioners, from health coaches to dietitians, therapists and doulas.

Franzraich’s vision is to make health and wellness more accessible and affordable, so once this part of the business has developed, he plans to extend the range of credit cards to accelerate consumers’ wellness rewards and give cardholders exclusive access to an array of health-related opportunities.

In a bid to solve US customers’ health insurance struggles, the company also intends to offer medical benefits, supplemental insurance and comprehensive health insurance to credit card holders.

"Ultimately, we see credit cards as the best platform for consumers to get health insurance that'll stick with them for 30 to 40 years, not just three to four," says Flanzraich. "When we can justify investing in long-term health right now, that'll lead to a healthier society with health plan incentives totally aligned for the first time."

"The approach to use credit cards as a wedge into offering a more aligned health insurance solution will reinvent the way we take care of our long-term health,” added Reilly.

Users can sign up for an invite to the Ness Rewards app at nesswell.com.

Last year wellness platform Paceline launched a credit card that linked financial benefits to physical health. Rewards are available across a range of wellness merchants, including gyms such as Planet Fitness, spa treatments, cardio equipment and workout apparel. Users' workouts and activities are tracked by an Apple Watch which generates their personalised rewards options.



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