Business

Startup Sami launches health plan for micro-entrepreneurs, a market of more than 11 million people in Brazil

A BRL 86 million round announced in October last year is what made it possible to expand the portfolio and target audience of health tech

Sami co-founders Vitor Asseituno and Guilherme Berardo. Photo: Sami/Courtesy
Ler em português
  • According to data from the sector’s regulatory agency, ANS, corporate health plans account for about 70% of the country’s private coverage offer;
  • However, the minimum condition for this type of plan is that the contracting company has at least two employees;
  • The alternative would be individual or family plans. Still, these options, besides being more expensive than corporate plans, have been offered less and less by traditional companies because ANS limits their annual price adjustment.

The Brazilian health tech Sami launched this week a health insurance option for micro-entrepreneurs (MEIs, the acronym in Portuguese as these professionals are known in the country). It is a giant target audience, which grew a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that it is poorly served by the traditional market. According to the Brazilian IRS, the country had more than 11.2 million MEIs until the third week of December, an increase of 20% over the same period of the previous year.

“We are also entrepreneurs, and we feel we need to help them on this journey. MEIs have been a booming category, but they are unassisted when it comes to health. We have the technology and medical quality to ensure the best service for them, and we’ve prepared ourselves to be their first option,” says Guilherme Berardo, co-founder and CEO of the startup.

READ ALSO: First SoftBank-funded health tech in the region, Brazilian iClinic has grown 400% amid the pandemic

The intention to expand the portfolio and target audience was something that the startup had already stressed in October last year when it received BRL 86 million from a Series A round led by Valor Capital Group and monashees. Previous investors, such as Redpoint eventures and Canary, also participated in the round.

According to data from the sector’s regulatory agency, ANS, corporate health plans account for almost 70% of the country’s private coverage offer. However, the minimum condition for this type of plan is that the contracting company has at least two employees. The alternative would be individual or family plans. Still, these options, besides being more expensive than corporate plans, have been offered less and less by traditional companies because ANS limits their annual price adjustment.

READ ALSO: Brazil’s ViBe Saúde raises $10 million to expand its telehealth services in Brazil

“MEIs can contract plans according to the law, but they can hardly find alternatives, as the vast majority do not accept contracts with only one life. It is a business choice of these plans, which understand that such companies may have a higher cost and the revenue would not offset the costs of selling and using them. But we understood that we needed to support this audience,” explains Vitor Asseituno, co-founder and president of Sami.

ANS regulations for business plans for MEIs came into effect in January 2018, but few traditional operators offer the option, which also has bureaucratic barriers. “The regulation requires that operators update the documents that prove MEI’s legitimacy every year and that the company has at least six months existence, which is a [bureaucratic] process challenge that most operators have yet to overcome,” says Martha Oliveira, former director of ANS and advisor to Sami.

READ ALSO: Launched amid the pandemic, Brazilian startup Alice wants to change the logic of private health care in the country

Besides offering health plans for MEIs, Sami expanded its accredited network for the Sami Sol plan, the startup’s first health plan. For now, Sami operates only in the region of the city of Sao Paulo. Sami’s plans can be bought entirely online, with prices starting at BRL 198 per person (for the 19- to 23-year-old age group).

Get the best insights about Latin America market in your inbox