Brian Bushlach has been involved in the Washington state real estate, media and insurance fields over the course of his 30-year career, and for about 20 of those years, he was self-employed. Now, after years of being frustrated by the health insurance options available to self-employed individuals, he’s also become founder and CEO of a real estate professional-focused health insurance brokerage called Youity.
Because many real estate professionals are self-employed and 1099 tax filers, they typically are not eligible for major group health insurance, and limited coverage options that are available through associations are often costly because of the age of plan participants.
After watching his family’s health insurance premiums nearly double over the course of five years, and even going through periods without health insurance in order to cut costs, Bushlach had enough. Taking two years to research the options, Bushlach, in tandem with national insurance company Ternian, an Axis Capital Company, created his own custom-built insurance plans catered exclusively to professionals in real estate.
“Finally, a couple of years ago, out of pure frustration, I tackled this thing by myself,” Bushlach told Inman. “It really was an eye-opener, and a learning experience, and a journey of a lot of “no’s” and no interest. If it didn’t fit the box, people weren’t interested.”
Bushlach found that Ternian had put together plans like the ideal ones he was seeking out in one form or another over the past 30 years or so, but they had never been applied to the real estate profession.
“A lot of the ‘so-called’ solutions were off the shelf,” Bushlach said. “Essentially, what we did was tune them up specifically for the real estate profession.”
“The average individual pays $1,400 out-of-pocket per year on medical services, yet we spend thousands of dollars on premiums, plus deductibles,” Bushlach explained in a statement.
In order to combat this problem, Bushlach tailored the size of the plans by capping benefits that usually go unused and dedicating monthly premium dollars toward services in a type of policy called “first dollar” coverage.
The health network provider is First Health PPO, which includes Rx, 24/7 teledoc, mental health support, and dental, vision and life insurance options. Enrollment is open year-round.
Youity soft-launched in January in Ohio. But, once the COVID-19 outbreak started to get serious, Bushlach and his team put a pause on further movement for several weeks while real estate professionals across the nation adapted. Now, the insurance brokerage’s plans are available across 44 states for group coverage through a real estate group, team, brokerage or franchisee consisting of at least three people.
“It’s been very well-received,” Bushlach told Inman. “[I’ve] just been doing webinars non-stop now. People are thrilled not only to have access, but [a] cost-effective [plan].”