What is Picwell?

Picwell is the most advanced and revolutionary decision support tool in health plan choice. Seamlessly and simultaneously processing the over 900K+ variables associated with health plan choice, Picwell forecasts a consumer's future healthcare needs using lifestyle, behavioral and financial data as well as millions of health claims. It distills this complex array of information down to simple, independent and objective health plan scores that consumers can easily understand, allowing them to buy with confidence.


Why we are here

Understanding health plan choice is darn near impossible for everyone.

Consumers are confused

Consumers purchasing health plans are given a daunting task: understand all of the intricacies of plan design, marry that to provider networks and varying payments, AND forecast their health needs for the next year or risk paying too much. Given that most consumers do not even understand basic health insurance terms, it can be the most confusing choice a consumer makes all year.

Consumers dread health plan shopping

When consumers were asked to compare health plan shopping to unpleasant experiences, 64% said it was like having a tooth filled, 75% said it was like doing their own taxes, and 73% said it was like getting the middle seat on an airplane. Each year, open enrollment brings a new wave of dread, pain and confusion to consumers seeking a good choice for themselves and their families.

Consumers are losing money

Picwell has found that individuals could save up to $1,300 per year by selecting the lowest cost plan. For couples and families, the savings can be even more significant, up to $4,000 per year. Picwell understands that saving money is important but that consumers buy health insurance to protect themselves financially. Picwell found that even when accounting for financial security, consumers overspend by $450-$850. In the employer-based setting that could mean an extra paycheck per year for consumers.

Who we benefit

Picwell enhances activities for every participant in the health plan purchasing ecosystem by making it easier, faster, better and simpler.

  • Consumers
  • Exchanges & Marketplaces
  • Benefit Platforms
  • Lead Generators
  • Agents and Brokers
  • Retail Pharmacies
  • Employers
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Consumers engage Picwell online or through a broker, employer or other agent supporting choice.

We ask a few simple questions: age, gender, zip and medications.


Based on these measures, we identify health care utilization, demographic, lifestyle, behavioral, financial and network data for millions of individuals.

We then use our high-dimensional statistical algorithms to generate individual-specific predictions that help consumers make informed choices. These predictions incorporate nuances of health plan choice that are impossible for any consumer to understand or track.


We create a personalized Picwell Score for each available plan choice according to its fit with the consumer based on his or her predicted utilization of healthcare services and medicines, value of physician and hospital network, risk tolerance, lifestyle preferences and behavioral patterns.

Picwell estimates the consumer's RealCost™ (premium + projected out of pocket expenses), accounting for predicted utilization against available plan designs.

Using the consumer's data and satisfaction survey data, Picwell estimates how satisfied similar people are with the plan choices available. This gives a user a unique projected Satisfaction Rating for each plan.

Evolution of Models and Data

With each user, as the Picwell system takes in new data, the system improves and creates even more predictive and personalized answers for all platform users.

The ultimate decision support tool

Picwell makes the health plan shopping experience easier, faster, better and simpler for everyone. By providing elegantly simple, independent and objective plan scores, we help the consumers buy the ideal plan for themselves and their families. The end result: satisfied consumers and employees.

  • Carriers

    Picwell helps consumers get to the right product faster by highlighting key product benefits and differences on a multi-carrier or carrier specific exchange. For a multi-carrier exchange, this means your products are no longer competing on cost alone, but by the most important features that drive a plan's fit with the consumer. For a carrier specific exchange, Picwell provides true decision support capabilities with independent and objective plan scores that help consumers differentiate between products and increase consumers' trust in the platform and direct to consumer marketing efforts.

    Using Picwell can also improve all direct to consumer marketing efforts and enable a proactive approach to consumer retention (ex. enhanced ANOC letters with plan scores for open enrollment). Picwell also creates greater efficiencies in your telemarketing process, drives down transaction costs and delivers consistency in results between broker and direct to consumer sales channels.

    Picwell believes that a "fifth right" (after time, place, care and cost) in health care is getting the right plan. When consumers are aligned with their ideal health plans, they are more satisfied, and this increases consumer satisfaction and plan quality ratings. For Medicare plans, that could mean positive impacts on Medicare Star Ratings.

    Picwell also enables carriers to expand into new markets and business lines. It can increase sales of High Deductible Health Plans (to those best suited for them) and the product bundles that support them. It also improves sales of Health Savings Accounts and helps consumers understand how much money they should ideally set aside.

  • Exchanges, Marketplaces & Benefit Platforms

    Because Picwell's tool is independent and objective, it increases consumers' trust in the platform as well as the confidence in their plan choice.

    Picwell also enables a true marketplace by providing authentic product differentiation through decision support and enables a next-generation exchange through which individuals can find plans faster and find value in the exchange. This leads to improved customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. It also creates greater efficiencies in your process and drives down transaction costs by reducing call volume and length for sales agents.

    The sales support tool takes the burden of becoming insurance experts off of sales agents, which means less training, and drives consistency in results between the online platform and the selling agents.

  • Lead Generators

    Picwell revolutionizes a site's user interface with a true decision support tool, which creates more valuable leads. Picwell's tool narrows the choices for consumers through independent and objective plan scores and helps consumers get to the right plan with confidence, so when a Picwell generated lead goes downstream to your partners, it is more likely to lead to a sale.

  • Agents & Brokers

    Picwell helps agents sell better, faster and cheaper to consumers.

    Picwell's tool understands all variables of health plan choice including- predicting a consumer's health needs, estimating RealCost™, assessing risk tolerance levels, evaluating network value and understanding lifestyle preferences- and distills this all down into easy-to-understand scores that help differentiate products. It is impossible for any agent to fully account for these variables, but with Picwell,you don't have to. Picwell's tool means that agents do not need to become insurance experts; they just need to use the Picwell tool. The result: greater efficiency and effectiveness for each writing agent.

    And because Picwell's tool generates scores that are independent and objective, it increases consumers' trust and thereby improves close rates. By helping consumers buy plans that are better suited to them, you create high satisfaction levels and grow your business base.

  • Retail Pharmacies

    For the 65+ population, consumers' relationships with a pharmacy and pharmacist is very important. Picwell's tool enables consumers to search for plans based on their pharmacy preferences so they can stay in network year after year. This helps consumers save on costs and helps pharmacies improve customer acquisition and retention.

  • Employers

    Despite the efforts of employers to prepare employees for open enrollment, employees still lack confidence plan choice decisions. Recent research has proven that employees are losing nearly one paycheck per year in choice error.

    Picwell streamlines the open enrollment process for you and your employees, easing the burden of plan selection, allowing employees to choose plans with confidence, and creating greater employee satisfaction overall.

    Because Picwell's tool aligns employees with their ideal plan, they derive greater value from the benefit plans offered, reducing their out-of-pocket costs and effectively giving them "a raise." Picwell can also guide part-time employees and retirees to the optimal plan choice and ease their transition to independent health plan selection.

    Pinpoint by Picwell is a specialty product that is complementary to the Picwell advisory tool and allows HR administrators to optimize policies for a company's specific goals. Pinpoint is the only subsidy-optimizing tool that assesses the impact of employer subsidies on employees' decisions between plans, employer subsidy costs and employee welfare.

Picwell Tools

Specific tools to meet your consumers’ specific needs

Picwell Advisory Tools

Picwell's advisory tool is a predictive decision support tool for health plan choice. Picwell's tool asks users a few simple questions and then generates scores for available plans based on an individual consumer's projected costs, risk tolerance, lifestyle preferences and behavioral patterns. Consumers can access the Picwell tool online or through a broker/sales agent.

How Picwell works with you:

Picwell's business clients can integrate with the advisory tool seamlessly via cloud based REST APIs, which are compatible with any modern technology platform and are programming language agnostic. Picwell's REST APIs can integrate into a platform's existing front-end user interface, or Picwell can develop the consumer-facing UI elements to provide best-in-class decision support capabilities.

The Picwell Tool in action:

Advisory tools infographic

Pinpoint by Picwell

Pinpoint by Picwell is a specialty product that is complementary to the Picwell advisory tool and allows HR executives to optimize the subsidies that companies offer their employees based on specific goals (e.g. minimize cost of HRA, maximize employee welfare overall, etc.).

The Pinpoint tool develops a model to compute the impact of different subsidy policies on key target outcomes. This allows companies to understand the effect of their subsidy decisions on insurance plan choice and facilitates the improvement of choices offered to employees (with regard to financial and health outcomes).

  • Assesses opportunities to improve employee choices (both with respect to financial and, depending on data availability, health outcomes)
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  • Determines the impact of subsidy policies on insurance choice
  • Develops a model to compute the impact of different subsidy policies on key outcomes
  • Computes optimal policies given employer goals (e.g. minimize cost of HRA, maximize employee welfare overall, etc.)
  • Facilitates the transition to defined contribution by providing a support tool for employees in their decision-making

Picwell Labs

Picwell Labs works with Picwell's partners to better leverage unique data and market settings to generate new insights and solutions to challenging problems. Harnessing cutting edge methods from economics and machine learning, the Picwell labs team helps partners understand how their customers behave, their unique consumer preferences, how to optimize plan offerings and much more. Picwell labs builds scalable and actionable tools across the organization. Customized data solutions integrate seamlessly into the Picwell platform and are delivered as an API.

The Picwell Labs team continually refines the process, analyzing new data sets that impact health plan choices, constantly improving the clusters and algorithms for ever more precise and robust predictions.

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The Picwell Labs team has done work with exchanges, platforms and other customers to enlighten opportunities to improve consumer choice, assess sales agent productivity, evaluate optimal subsidy levels, and assess the likelihood of a consumer switching plans. Most recently, the Picwell Labs team completed a research study for a public exchange focused on evaluating the opportunity for improved health plan choice using a predictive analytics tool and found that consumers tend to over insure even when accounting for the financial security that health insurance provides and a predictive analytics decision support tool could help improve choice process.

Proven Team : the force behind Picwell

We've gathered a powerful team of experts across key disciplines, delivering robust solutions that are unparalleled in the industry.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Jonathan KolstadChief Data Scientist

    An economist by training, Jonathan joined Picwell to bring the latest in technology and data-driven decision-making to health insurance. His role at Picwell ranges from data analysis and algorithm design to developing strategic partnerships to help customers use large quantities of data in new ways. Jonathan is an assistant professor at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania. He is also a Consulting Researcher at Microsoft Research and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Jonathan received his PhD from Harvard University and his BA from Stanford University. You can find out more about Jon's research here.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Robert TownChief Economist

    After 22 years of health economics research, one conclusion is clear to Bob: there are many opportunities to improve our health care system in a cost-effective manner. A principle motivation for founding Picwell is to develop technologies that achieve this in the health insurance space while also improving overall health outcomes. Bob is a professor in the Health Care Management Department at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his BA in economics from the University of Washington in Seattle. You can find out more about Robert's research here.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Ben Handel Analytics

    Ben is an assistant professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the link between consumer choice foundations, firm behavior and market regulation, particularly in the context of health insurance and health care provider markets. You can find out more about Ben's research here.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Sam KinaSVP Data Science and Economics

    Sam Kina is the Senior Vice President of Data Science and Economics at Picwell. He received his B.A. in Public Policy Analysis and Economics from Pomona College and his Ph.D. in Health Care Policy and Economics from Harvard University. Dr. Kina leads Picwell’s analytics team of data scientists and economists in the development of Picwell’s prediction algorithms and economic models. Prior to joining Picwell, he was a Manager at the Analysis Group, an economic and litigation consulting firm, where he provided economic and strategic support to several pharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurance companies, and regulatory agencies in matters related to patent litigation, antitrust regulation, and FDA regulation. Dr. Kina also participating in Analysis Group’s Health Care research practice, where he conducted outcomes research and conducted statistical analyses of clinical trial and chart review data for several pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Kina has also worked as an Analyst in the Health and Human Resources division of the Congressional Budget Office, where he focused on legislation related to federal health care programs, including Medicare Part D.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Jay Silverstein Chief Executive Officer

    Jay is a thirty year veteran of the US health industry and has developed a reputation as one of the industry's leading thinkers both creatively and strategically. He has played an instrumental role in the development of some of the most significant and impactful paradigm shifts in the health sector, including the development of the Point-of-Service category, the integration of complementary medicine into mainstream insurance, the development of database driven preventive medicine, the launch of physician report cards and the elimination of medical necessity review.

    Jay has served as Chief Marketing Officer and a member of the Executive Council at UnitedHealthcare, and was a founding principal and Chief Imagineer at Oxford Health Plans, where he designed many of the marketing, product and service programs that helped grow the company from its inception to over $6 billion in revenues. He has also served as SVP of Marketing and a member of the Executive Operating Committee at HealthNet, Chief Operating Officer at Revolution Health and most recently, Chief Branding Officer at Medco Health Solutions.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Kevin HillBoard Member

    Kevin was the Executive VP of Sales, Products and Pricing at Oxford Health Solutions from 1999 through 2004. In this capacity, all sales, marketing, product, pricing and underwriting departments for Oxford's $5.5+ billion commercial and Medicare businesses reported to Kevin. Upon Oxford's sale in 2004 to United Healthcare, Kevin was named CEO of United's Northeast Division and was with UHC until 2006. Since 2006, Kevin has been an adviser and/or board member of several VC backed companies, including acting as the Chairman of HealthPlanOne, Chairman of CheckpointHR and as a senior adviser to Liazon Corporation.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Paul KusserowBoard Member

    Paul was Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer at Humana from 2009-2014. Prior to joining Humana in 2009, Paul served as Managing Director of Private Equity at the Chicago-based investment firm B.C. Ziegler and Company. He also served as Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of the Ziegler HealthVest Fund, where he focused on early-stage investments in health care services and health care IT. From 2004 to 2007, he was Managing Director of San Ysidro Capital Partners LLC, a health care services consulting and investment advisory firm. From 1997 to 2004, Paul served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Tenet Ventures, at Tenet HealthCare Corporation. He began his career as a management consultant with McKinsey and Company.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Ani VempralaChief Technology Officer

    As CTO, Ani leads a team of talented software engineers developing Picwell's platform and recommendation products. Prior to Picwell, Ani was VP of Media Products & Analytics at Adify, an online advertising technology startup acquired by Cox Enterprises for $300 million. He received his MBA from The Wharton School and his BA in Computer Science from UC Berkeley.

  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Tom BakerGeneral Counsel

    When Tom couldn't figure out the best health insurance plan for his family, he knew the system for choosing plans was broken. Tom is dedicated to finding and building tools that help people make smart choices for both their health and wallet. Medicare prescription drug plans are just the beginning.

    Tom is the William Maul Measey Professor of Law and Health Sciences at The University of Pennsylvania Law School. His law and undergraduate degrees are from Harvard University.

    You can find out more about Tom's research here


  • Tab opener image READ MY BIO Eric JohnsonConsumer Insight

    Eric is a professor at the Columbia Business School at Columbia University where he is the inaugural holder of the Norman Eig Chair of Business, and Director of the Center for Decision Sciences. His research examines the interface between behavioral decision research, economics and the decisions made by consumers, managers, and their implications for public policy, markets and marketing.

    You can find out more about Eric's research here.

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  • What data sets do we use to calculate our scores?
    • Picwell has access to data sets on plan details, drug formularies, provider networks, and million of claims through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other private sources.
    • We have uniquely linked de-identified individual claims with lifestyle data (demographics, psychographics and risk tolerance) and pricing data (physicians and procedures). We further augment this data set with custom survey data (personal preferences, health status, and consumer experience) and real-time decision data from Picwell customers.
    • Using all of this data, as well as client-specific plan offering and claims data, Picwell is able to make Realcost™ predictions (forward-looking projections of potential out of pocket expenses) across all available plans.
    • These data sets also allow Picwell to identify "people like you" for consumers so that they can learn about the preferences and plan choices of other consumers most similar to them.
  • How much information do we need from consumers? What do we give them back?
    • The Picwell tool utilizes individual-specific information on age, gender, zip code, and prescription medications. Using this information, the Picwell tool makes a personalized assessment of how expensive plans are to an individual and how valuable each plans' benefits are for that individual.
    • From this information, Picwell generates a Picwell Score for each available plan, capturing the benefit generosity of each plan and incorporating the individual's preferences for risk and other non-financial attributes. This set of personalized Picwell Scores allows the consumer to compare plans and determine which plan best suits their needs with ease and confidence.
  • How does Picwell work with an existing exchange site or online platform?

    Picwell is a cloud-based service that integrates with exchange portals over secure APIs (i.e. web services) to deliver a seamless experience to consumers. Delivery of the Picwell tool via APIs offers a great deal of flexibility, allowing consumer accessibility across multiple points of contact, including mobile, tablet, and laptop/desktop. The tool can also be deployed above a decision set of all available plans or integrated with subsets of plans based on client need. Furthermore, Picwell can integrate its APIs into a platform's existing front-end user interface or even develop the consumer-facing UI elements utilized by the Picwell tool to provide best-in-class decision support capabilities.

  • How quickly can Picwell be implemented on a site? What are the requirements? How fast and user-friendly is the Picwell tool?
    • Picwell can be integrated into a platform through a secure server-side API integration. A typical server-to-server integration takes 4 to 6 weeks. Because Picwell's APIs are REST-based, they can integrate with any modern technology stack and are programming language agnostic. Our cloud-based platform is architected for high scale and low latency, allowing us to deliver easily understandable plan scores to a large user base in seconds.
    • Behavioral economics-based considerations are incorporated in the design of the Picwell tool to promote user-friendliness throughout the consumer experience. Picwell is about helping consumers navigate the buying decision process for health insurance in a way that allows them to make the right purchase with ease and confidence.
    • Picwell achieves this by limiting choice overload, providing the tools to compare plans and eliminating the consumer's need to perform multivariate number-crunching, so they can focus on making an informed decision instead.
  • How do we deal with security? What about HIPAA?

    Picwell is now and always will be compliant with the most stringent of HIPAA compliance standards. Picwell follows industry best practices for user data, including several layers of encryption, firewalling, and authentication. In a standard application, the Picwell tool does not access personally identifiable health data on individuals.

  • How do we know our Picwell Scores are correct?
    • Picwell tests our scores extensively using our proprietary large-scale claims database. This allows us to create consumer simulations that measure healthcare coverage and dollars saved to ensure that Picwell Scores are as accurate as possible.
    • We also vet our predictions with our business-to-business customers by working with them to provide a detailed breakdown of scores for a set of sample end-consumers. We run analytic evaluations of market share predictions by plan for a sample end-consumer population based on the client's need.
  • How much does it cost?
    • We charge an API licensing fee to use the Picwell tool. This cost is easily offset by the financial benefits of use. We purposely align incentives with our customers to help them realize the cost savings and incremental benefits of the Picwell tool.
    • Picwell brings improvements in customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction, and also facilitates reductions in telemarketing, selling and transaction costs. This makes our pricing model attractive to a range of potential partners.

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