By: Madeline Inskeep
Al Castino wasn’t necessarily in the mood to talk when he settled into his seat for the flight from San Francisco to Phoenix. Having recently broken his collarbone, the journey was already going to be a bit uncomfortable, and (as we all know) seat-partner small talk on plane rides can be a hit-or-miss experience! However, when Rachel Mertensmeyer, RexPay’s CEO, sat down and struck up conversation, it surprised him how quickly they stumbled on a topic that they were both truly passionate about: medical bills. Click here to hear in his own words why Al Castino is passionate about medical bills .
That may seem like a strange topic for two new acquaintances to share keen interest, but both Rachel and Al have close, personal ties to the chaos that a flawed medical billing system can bring to patient’s lives. Rachel’s personal struggle with medical bills spanned nearly 2 years, Al’s has spanned well over a decade.
When a close relative was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Al readily stepped in to help with what became a 10 year journey. Beyond the toll of illness and the strain of treatment, Al witnessed firsthand the stress that comes from a deluge of bills, insurance forms, and unclear documentation from healthcare providers and the medical insurance company. He also witnessed a number of surprise bills from doctors who had never met his relative but were billing for consulting with her doctors.
Of course, this is not a new problem. Stories of exorbitant, confusing, and unexpected bills have circulated in the press for years. Very few patients understand the bills or the mysterious “Explanation of Benefits” from the medical insurance company. Most of us have experienced the struggle ourselves, or at the least, know someone that has. Al was keenly aware of a gap – an unmet need in the world of medical billing, insurance, and pre-service patient support.
“Nobody has taken the patient perspective with this problem,” he’s said, “Nobody is set up to help patients deal with a variety of bills from different providers, or understand what they mean, or understand what the insurance status is, or know what they should do when the insurance status is a surprise… or when the bill itself is a surprise!”
So, when Rachel shared her idea to start RexPay, Al knew she had discovered an important niche, and that RexPay was a business centered around a cause he was passionate about. The flight may have only lasted a short while, but the ripple effect of Alfred and Rachel’s conversation took them through many more months of discussion, strategy, and research.
Now, the RexPay app is formally in beta testing, and Al is pleased to create solutions that will allow RexPay to, in his words, “help patients find ways to avoid bankruptcy and avoid bringing their families under financial distress. Through pre-service advice and also by helping them after they get a bill, we want to help people understand ways they could manage that bill, or perhaps negotiate payment methods or even forgiveness of the bill. We want to get going on a solution for patients using modern technology.”
Thanks to Alfred’s enthusiasm, expertise, and early stage funding, RexPay will be able to help patients make a significant step forward in dealing with medical bills. We’re proud to have him on the RexPay rescue team!