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Q&A: Forward CEO on Healthcare-as-a-Product and how health insurance is the ‘root of all evil’

A growing cohort of companies are disrupting primary care—an underinvested, but critical component of the healthcare ecosystem. Many of these startups are considered “concierge” care delivery organizations, charging patients a flat monthly or annual fee just to be a member.

Read more about the transformation of primary care in our Primary Care Disruptors Report here.

San Francisco-based Forward launched in 2016—opting to eschew health insurance and instead offer its services based on a flat monthly membership fee of $149 per month. The company provides 24/7 medical advice via its app, and touts buzzy technology like biometric full body scans, from which 500 biomarkers are captured during a patient’s first visit.

We spoke with Forward’s founder and CEO Adrian Aoun about the company’s business model, why primary care is ripe for disruption, and how the startup plans to grow.

The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Insider Intelligence (II): Why does primary care versus other aspects of the healthcare system need to be disrupted?

Adrian Aoun (AA): The healthcare system is fundamentally broken.

Imagine if you were driving a Tesla, you got into an accident, and the Tesla needed to be repaired. And the mechanic repairing the Tesla made millions of dollars per year, but the engineer who built it made $50,000 per year. The person who builds the car up front should be more valuable than the one who repairs it. We've done the exact opposite in healthcare.

The primary care physician is the person who prevents [things] from happening. But why do we live in a world where surgeons make more than primary care doctors?

We have underinvested in primary and preventative care because the insurance industry is tied to your employer—and this is the root of all evil.