Why Choose Caribou? A Side-by-Side Comparison to Other Healthcare Planning Companies

Caribou Team
May 31, 2024

We get asked pretty often by prospects, “Who are your competitors?” It’s a fair question, but the truth is that no one does exactly what we do. That’s not a brag, it’s simply a fact. However, there are some companies and services that offer general healthcare planning and/or Medicare planning. So if you’ve ever wondered how our healthcare planning software stacks up against competitors, keep reading!

But before we get into the comparisons, let’s first establish what Caribou does and why we’re different from all other healthcare/Medicare planning companies.

What does Caribou do?

Caribou is a healthcare planning company that works exclusively with financial advisors to plan for clients' current and future healthcare costs, creating a holistic financial plan that ensures peace of mind. Caribou's software, HealthPlanner, creates a custom HealthPlanning Analysis, tailored around major life events, that supports and optimizes health insurance plan selection.

Three main points set Caribou apart from virtually any and all potential competitors:

  1. We don’t sell the plans, meaning we can show all available plan options in any given zip code to your clients. Most other healthcare/Medicare planning companies sell the plans, meaning they offer a limited scope of options to your clients, and possibly eliminate ones that are best suited to their needs.
  2. Caribou is built exclusively for wealth managers and advisors; others are built for consumers. Because of this model, we understand your client and share in your fiduciary responsibility to do right by them.
  3. Caribou offers HealthPlanning Analyses for both Medicare and Marketplace coverage; most of these other companies only offer Medicare coverage optimization.

The above summary is the TLDR (too long didn’t read) version of this blog post. If you want a more in-depth comparison of Caribou to each of the other healthcare/Medicare planning companies, keep reading:

Caribou vs i65

What does i65 do?

i65 offers Medicare planning software so financial advisors can engage in conversations about Medicare and healthcare in retirement. “These conversations make it easy to build trust with clients and extend the conversation to other critical topics, including estate planning, Social Security timing, and more.”

Comparison of capabilities and features

The biggest difference is that i65 only deals with Medicare coverage, whereas Caribou offers healthcare planning for Medicare (clients aged 65+) and the Marketplace (clients under age 65). In addition to that, Caribou puts an emphasis on Life Events, which essentially means that there are many milestones in life and events that can be used to have a healthcare planning conversation. This gets you, the financial advisor, involved in more of your clients’ financial lives and creates a more accurate financial plan throughout clients’ entire lives (not just when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare). 

i65's software leaves it up to the advisor to digest their client's analysis and deliver the results on their own. In our experience, clients want the ability to speak with an expert about their options. With Caribou, you get that support via chat and call, included in the cost. With i65, it’s a separate $599 fee per client for a consultation call with an i65 team member.

Below, you can look at a side-by-side comparison of the key capabilities and features offered (and not offered) between Caribou and i65. Please note that if there’s a question mark, it’s because it was not clear on i65’s website whether or not they offer that feature.

Caribou vs General Healthcare Costs Calculators 

What do general healthcare cost calculators do?

General healthcare cost calculators, such as Vanguard and eMoney, use simple tools to give a rough estimate of clients’ future healthcare costs based on a few basic questions and criteria. Some also have Medicare matching capabilities based on a few client preferences.

Comparison of capabilities and features

There are many general healthcare cost calculators out there, some are free and some aren’t. They also vary in their capabilities and features. For the purposes of a side-by-side comparison, we’ll look at how Vanguard’s healthcare cost estimator and Medicare match feature compare to Caribou. The most notable difference is that Vanguard doesn’t get as granular and specific as Caribou when asking about clients’ information, preferences, and health needs. They ask a few simple questions to compute their estimates, making them unable to factor nuance into their estimates. Since Caribou puts an emphasis on Life Events and also has clients complete a fairly comprehensive profile, your clients will receive a truly personalized HealthPlanning Analysis that takes all of their details and situations into account. Figuring out healthcare costs needs to factor in criteria such as doctors, medications, and health needs — otherwise, the types of coverage assessed or costs calculated are inaccurate.

To show you an example, we plugged data into their calculator from a real use case we encountered with a client of a financial advisor. Details entered:

  • Retirement income of $100,000
  • Lives in PA
  • "Moderate" healthcare utilization
  • Plan G

The results claimed that the client's costs would be $6,894/year, meanwhile our analysis showed their annual drug costs alone would be over $25,000: 

We also found that Vanguard is limited in its ability to look at all client locations — there were zip codes that Vanguard was unable to retrieve data about.

Caribou vs HealthPilot

What does HealthPilot do?

Healthpilot is an “online insurance brokerage offering a digital experience to Medicare beneficiaries” that both advisors and individuals can use to find their ideal Medicare plan. Healthpilot also has the capability for individuals to enroll in a Medicare plan while on the platform and has integrations with both the Envestnet and Envestnet | MoneyGuide platforms.

Comparison of capabilities and features

Similar to i65, Healthpilot only deals with Medicare coverage. So, again, this limits how many clients you can offer healthcare planning to and does not take all Life Events into consideration. Caribou does, and because of this, our HealthPlanning Analyses are truly comprehensive,  create more client touch points, and limit the number of total software you need to use (you have enough vendors to keep track of!) 

Unlike i65, Healthpilot is free to use. They claim to be a zero-commission company, but they are categorized as an “insurance brokerage”, which typically means the brokerage earns commissions from insurance companies when they sell plans. Their website states, “Healthpilot.com is operated by Healthpilot Technologies LLC, a licensed health insurance brokerage, also doing business as Healthpilot Insurance Services in the state of California.” So they more than likely generate revenue through the sale of health plans. Since they’re technically an insurance brokerage, clients might be limited in plan options if Healthpilot isn’t in contract with all the carriers in a client’s area. There are also fewer features available in comparison to Caribou or other healthcare planning software.

Caribou vs Insurance Agencies / Broker Agencies

What do insurance agencies/broker agencies do?

Examples of insurance agencies that help people choose which plan works best for their needs include vendors such as Chapter, Boomer Benefits, FairStreet, Fair Square Medicare, and Devoted Health. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll look closest at Chapter and Boomer Benefits. Chapter offers Medicare advisors who help clients choose a Medicare plan and assist with enrollment. Similarly, Boomer Benefits connects clients with an agent who will ask them a series of questions to help them determine the ideal Medicare plan for their needs and preferences.

Comparison of capabilities and features

A huge difference between Caribou and insurance agencies is that insurance agencies not only work off of commission but also only guide clients through the plans they have contracts with. On most insurance agency websites, you’ll find a disclaimer similar to this: “We have contracts with many but not all plans. As a result, we do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area.” So a drawback to working with insurance agencies is that your clients might miss out on the ideal option for their needs if the agency isn’t in contract with that plan. Caribou is non-commissioned, meaning we offer completely unbiased, objective guidance. For the purposes of a side-by-side comparison, the graphic below shows how Caribou compares to Chapter, but keep in mind that there are many insurance agencies (tech-enabled or mom-and-pop style shops) that you could partner with.

Caribou vs Gallagher (formally known as Bernard Healthcare Financial Planning)

What does Gallagher (Bernard Healthcare Financial Planning) do?

Their team of non-commissioned advisors helps individuals and families who are referred by one of their partners with health insurance and Medicare. Partners include financial planners, employer benefit brokerages, healthcare providers, and insurance companies. 

Comparison of capabilities and features

Gallagher does offer healthcare planning for a wide variety of health insurance options (Medicare, Marketplace, employer coverage, etc.) but it’s unclear if this is offered only through their team of advisors or if there’s any kind of software involved. There's also a disclaimer on their website that states they don't "...offer every Medicare plan available in your area. Currently we represent 7 organizations which offer over 200 products in your area."

Gallagher is not stated as “free” but they also don’t have their prices listed anywhere. However, before Bernard Healthcare Financial Planning was acquired by Gallagher, it was known that their revenue model was based on total households working with a financial advisory firm (as listed on your ADV). This means that even if a household never uses Gallagher's healthcare planning, the financial advisor would still pay for it. In comparison, Caribou prices on a per-usage basis. You only pay for the households that actually initiate a HealthPlanning Analysis.

Final Thoughts

While there are other healthcare planning solutions out there for financial advisors and their clients to use, they vary quite a bit in capability and cost. If you’re looking for an affordable, white-label, non-commissioned software solution that can provide healthcare planning for both Medicare and non-Medicare clients, Caribou is your best option. In addition to customized HealthPlanning Analyses that go beyond basic healthcare cost estimates, Caribou also offers branded marketing and educational resources for you and your clients to make healthcare planning even easier.

Another way to think of Caribou is that we’re truly a partner rather than just a product. Many of the other healthcare planning products mentioned in this blog are just that: products. Caribou is a partner in the sense that our healthcare planning software becomes a seamless part of your service offering. We pride ourselves on having a great feedback loop so that we can scale with your business and offer a solution for the many life stages that your clients will go through working alongside you.

Explanation of features:

  • White-labeled experience: The company has software that can be white-labeled.
  • Medicare & Marketplace health plans for all major life events: The company offers healthcare planning for both Medicare and Marketplace plans.
  • Back-office support team for advisors and clients: The company has, at minimum, a customer support team that can be contacted.
  • Promotional materials for marketing: The company offers blogs, marketing collateral, and other resources that are branded to clients’ specific financial advisory firms.
  • Custom cost projections and savings insights: The company offers customized (not general) analyses or reports of future healthcare costs, including health insurance costs.
  • Pay per usage: The company’s revenue model is based on usage.
  • Non-commissioned: The company does not receive any commissions from health insurance companies.

Want to learn more about Caribou's healthcare planning software, HealthPlanner? A member of our team would be more than happy to talk with you! Click here to book a meeting.

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