Stride Health Hits its Stride, Expanding Its Position with New Partnerships in the Freelance Economy


We recently reported on the partnership and integration between Intuit Self-Employed and Stride Health as another milestone in the development of an independent worker-facing support services ecosystem, something we said “is essential for the continuing growth of the independent workforce.” Stride Health has been active on its own, over the past year, partnering and integrating with a range of platform companies that enable individuals and businesses “that require products and services” and independent workers “that can provide them.” A short list of these partnerships includes Uber, Postmates and TaskRabbit. In the past week, there have been announcements of new partnerships, as well as the expansion of an existing partnership with Uber.

What is Stride Health?

Stride Health, quick out of the blocks, was founded in 2013 and has already received total equity funding of $17 million, $13 million of it in May.

The company describes itself as an “authorized insurance broker [that] delivers health coverage, care and compliance as a complete suite of ‘Benefits for Independents’ to individuals. Stride’s platform provides on-demand economy marketplaces, consumer finance platforms and large organizations with a seamlessly integrated solution to protect independent workers.”

Elsewhere, Stride, which now operates in 50 states, has noted it “can connect people with coverage through over 200 insurance carriers and its recommendation engine compares 38 factors across thousands of health plans to find the most affordable coverage.”

Stride Health started as a recommendation engine for health insurance plans. But it has progressively added services that envelop independent workers and optimize their access to and management of healthcare services. These services include the efficient enrollment in and purchasing of health insurance as well as supporting cost-saving choices in and access to various other health care services.

The company reports that its comprehensive solution is “bolstered by a dedicated advisory team and software that provides access to in-network medical practitioners, negotiated drug prices at 70,000 local pharmacies” as well as free or low-cost preventive care providers. Stride Health has also stated that it sees itself as an alternative to the government health insurance exchanges, created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), by providing significantly faster recommendation and enrollment processes and by supporting individuals well beyond enrollment.

What’s Been Happening Recently?

Possibly connected to health plan open-enrollment periods typically starting in November, there appears to be a sudden surge in Stride Health partnership activity.

Last week, Work Market, the freelancer management system (FMS) solution provider, announced its partnership with Stride. Work Market said it is the first FMS to offer access to Stride — a true statement.

This week, Stride and Uber announced the upgrade of their year-long “pilot” that offered Uber drivers access to Stride. That has meant expansion of Stride availability from 37 states to all 50. It also entailed a different integration of Stride with the Uber platform. Whereas access to Stride was just another portal for Uber drivers, now they can easily access Stride's directly through the Uber Partner App, which drivers use continuously. Stride will also be available through Uber’s Momentum program, which, as Uber reports, provides access to a range of benefits and perks, such as discounts on fuel, reduced vehicle maintenance costs and discounts at top wireless carriers.

This week, Etsy toldits “sellers” that it had had partnered with Stride. At this stage, is does not appear that there is the sort of integration that Stride and Uber have recently implemented, but there is already an Etsy-specific web page at the Stride site, as seen below:


Also this week, independent worker payment solution provider Payable, a “new work-tracking and payments platform for businesses working with independent contractors,” announced its partnership with Stride Health. Unlike the Stride Health partner businesses mentioned above, Payable is not a platform that allows individuals or businesses to match up, arrange work and transact with independent workers; Payable complements those platforms and provides payment transaction services.

If we look at of what has been going on here this past week and over the last year, it would be hard not to conclude that we are witnessing an important set of developments

Spend Matters Take

As with the Intuit partnership with Stride, we see these developments as further evidence that the independent workforce is in the process of becoming a viable source of talent. We say this because we continue to see an increasing number of digital solutions emerging that will not only enable individuals and businesses to tap into this reputedly growing population of independent workers but also support and sustain independent workers through needed capabilities and services that are necessary for them to operate as independents.

Offering health insurance to contingent workers is nothing new. Staffing firms, for example, have long offered health plans — typically a single, often minimal coverage, health plan — that their temp employees could purchase. Some payrolling and independent contractor management businesses have done this, too.

What’s different here is:

  • Stride Health allows companies — work intermediation platforms (WIPs) and their platform ecosystem complementors — to offer health plan choice and related support services to the independent workers that work through them
  • Stride Health services are accessed and delivered as a part of what we might call a digital platform/services ecosystem that allows for provisioning of and access to services on a digitally integrated basis.

In such a world, you can have different component players — hypothetically, like Uber, Stride, Payable, Intuit Self-Employed — integrate to provide a seamless range of services to different participants (by definition, all the participants) in the ecosystem. In fact, in a world of APIs, PaaS and iPaaS, there is no real limit to what digital services components can come together in such ecosystems and what beneficial and amplifying “network effects” may arise.

What this means — and should be noted by contingent workforce and services procurement professionals — is that access to independent worker talent populations and new modes of provisioning and consuming labor services is becoming a reality. And, given the properties of digital platforms and ecosystems — such as tipping points and almost sudden acceleration — the field of play for accessing and engaging these human resources could occur more rapidly than you think, especially if the right components, perhaps unpredictably, come together in the right way. Businesses poised for these developments may very well be in advantaged position. As Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

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