Why We Started Nirvana
December 20, 2021
Why We Started Nirvana
Mental Healthcare in America is a mess. Demand for care has outstripped resources. Insurance benefits seem like an impenetrable morass. Every American deserves to have the mental health care services they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford and making mental healthcare accessible to all Americans should be a collective effort starting with the health insurer. Therapists should not be solely responsible for making their care affordable and they should not have to choose between helping their clients and having a decent standard of living. Every therapist we have spoken with who has tried to navigate health insurance has a horror story. They have spent hours on the phone with insurance companies only to get partial answers and end up more confused than before. We at Nirvana believe that is not okay.
We founded Nirvana Health to revolutionize mental healthcare from the ground up. We built Nirvana to remove the headaches from accessing insurance benefits, so more people can seek care without financial anxiety. We started Nirvana for ourselves and for our friends and family who worry about the cost of therapy; for everyone who struggles to seek care and for therapists who want their services to be available to those who need them.
Mental Healthcare Is Always Personal
Each of us has our own personal journey with mental health, and none of us found it easy.
Akshay: My first experience with mental healthcare came as a child when a close family member’s life changed when they were not able to get the mental health care they needed in time. This deeply personal experience stuck with me through college and cemented my passion to pursue healthcare as a career. I spent my first 10 years in the industry focusing on improving access to high-quality healthcare by helping to incentivize providers and payers to deliver patient-centered care. As these healthcare delivery models grew, scaling them often required creating a tight integration with mental healthcare services. Many times, this became an insurmountable obstacle that ground the process to a halt, which was dismissed by my peers at the time as, “therapists don’t understand insurance.” Insurance allows more people to seek mental health care from therapists. For me, this problem became an obsession: Why don't therapists use insurance? This inescapable question was the driving force for me to found Nirvana with Urvish and Kelvin.
Kelvin: For years, I followed a painstaking process where I was emailed a bill from my therapist. I’d download the attachment, print out the form, mail it to my insurer, and then just wait. The anxiety of not knowing how much my therapy would cost me after insurance was unbearable. It had already taken me a while to be comfortable with the concept of therapy itself; how to pay for it was my next big barrier. I wondered, how many other people felt this way? As I reflected on my role at my last company building products for financial services that streamlined the customer experience, I wondered if those same concepts could be applied to the mental healthcare space? I was determined to try.
Urvish: My first obstacle to seeking therapy came from what seemed like an insurmountable cultural stigma around mental health. My journey with mental health was a winding path full of twists and turns through yoga, meditation, and philosophy until I finally unraveled the stranglehold of the complex socio-cultural stigma that prevented me from seeking care. Therapy saved my life. I was lucky to make it through the system, but not everyone does. Everybody deserves the standard of life that high quality mental healthcare brings, and I wanted to apply my skills to make that standard a reality for everyone.
A New Way of Thinking
Our vision was simple: make paying for a therapist as easy as it is with every other thing in life. What that means in practice is streamlining two key actions:
- Generating a bill and charging the client.
- Automatically verifying their insurance benefits and getting reimbursement for their care.
With these two functions in place, we can create a world where there are zero wait times to verify your benefits and you can instantly check to see if you have been reimbursed for care.
With these core services, we can build products to become a financial partner for therapists to help ensure that they are paid a living wage so that high quality mental health services are more readily available to everyone.
Trust is the Cornerstone of Our Service
Since we’ve launched Nirvana, over 90% of participating therapists have started accepting insurance for the first time. Freed from cumbersome back-office work, many of our partner therapists have been able to grow their solo practices into group practices and many of our partner group practices have gone national.
We are honored that therapists look to us as their trusted financial partner in their growth. Our team’s combined expertise has allowed us to become a valuable information source for therapists looking to expand their practices. We have been able to assist them with questions like, “Which insurer network should I join?” and “Which states have favorable telehealth rules for our licensures?” and more. And if we don’t know the answer already, we have the tools and expertise to do the research to help our therapists make the right choices for their practices and their clients.
Kelvin, Urvish, and I are so proud of the impact Nirvana has had in just a few years. But we fully recognize that there is still an immense amount of work to be done. We see it as our responsibility to continue to grow our platform so that therapists and clients alike have the freedom to seamlessly switch between insurance plans, benefits, and practice models.
Mental health is always personal, and the choices that go into therapy and treatment need to be personalized as well. Clients need to have the freedom to make the right choices for themselves, not just the choices they can afford out of pocket. Therapists need the freedom to focus only on their clients so they can provide the services they need and not just more paperwork for the insurance companies. Nirvana is here to make that happen.
To learn more about Nirvana Health, go to https://www.meetnirvana.com.