DALLAS — When Jack Hooper and his wife found out they were pregnant with twins, no one could tell them how much insurance would cover.
After his frustrating experience, he launched a startup to help people make sense of a system that’s not easy to understand. “There’s a new rule today from the Trump administration with two new HRA types,” Jack Hooper said to his staff during a team meeting. “It operates very similar to QSERHA.”
An alphabet soup of health insurance expertise rolls off his tongue, but it certainly wasn’t always that way. “I still remember the doctor telling us - surprise it’s twins!” he said.
Jack and his wife found out she was pregnant just days after they quit their jobs and moved across the country for graduate school. They had a student insurance plan but no clue how much that plan would cover. “And we couldn’t get a good answer from doctors, hospitals, insurance professionals,” he said. “The one thing we couldn’t figure out what how much the twins were going to cost.”
Not long after Payton and Porter were born, so was Take Command Health. “Americans are so good at buying cars and TVs, but when it comes to buying healthcare, gosh, we just glaze over,” Hooper said. “So, we try to put it in really simple, plain language."
Take Command Health helps people who are shopping for insurance on the open market find and compare plans. It also helps people dispute medical bills and assists small business owners who are hoping to provide health insurance to their employees.
Hooper’s clients are often families that look a lot like his -- middle class families who are unable to decipher all the fine print. He says many of them end up making bad decisions because of it. “90 percent of families and individuals will choose the wrong health plan,” he said, explaining that people often just select the same plan they’ve chosen in previous years, without checking to make sure their doctors are still in network and prescriptions are still covered.
He shared the story of a private school teacher who is a single mother of two boys, one with special needs. She experienced what should have been a joyful situation – a significant pay raise. But it backfired when an increase in health insurance swallowed up her new salary. “She was very excited because she got a raise,” he said. “Her income went from $65,000 to around $80,000. Well, the problem was, around $65,000 she qualified for Medicaid as well as a large government subsidy.”
“When she got her raise, she lost access to Medicaid and tripped over the threshold to get a subsidy. Now her $15,000 raise was getting wiped out because she was paying about $1,500 a month in health insurance premiums. That’s where I feel like the middle class is disproportionately burdened,” he said.
After working with Hooper’s staff, she returned to her boss and asked for a smaller raise, taking more vacation time instead of more money. Hooper is now a father of three, and his family has grown along with his insurance expertise.
He says his best advice is to look at insurance like you would any other big purchase: shop around, compare, and study that fine print. “If we ask questions, educate ourselves and equip ourselves, we can make the market better, just by demanding it to be that way.”