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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Mira, a NYC-based startup that has users pay a membership fee to access basic health care services at fixed prices, has raised $2.7 million in funding from FlyBridge Capital Partners, Newark Venture Partners, Precursor Ventures, Plug and Play, CityLight, and angel James Chung.

Why it matters: Despite the Affordable Care Act enabling access to health coverage for more Americans, many remain uninsured, skipping out on preventative care and struggling to pay out of pocket for services.

The big picture: “If we were to zoom out, providers are suffering because of the rising administrative burden,” Mira co-founder and CEO Khang Vuong tells Axios. “On top of that, COVID-19 turned everything upside down.”

How it works: For a monthly membership fee ranging from $25 to $45, Mira customers get access to a number of health care services at partner clinics for set prices.

  • Prices include a $50 co-pay for a preventative care appointment and $99 for urgent care. Mira also provides discounts on prescriptions of up to 80% off.
  • Mira members currently have access to 125 clinics, 1,600 labs and 60,000 pharmacies, and discounts on services like gym memberships.

Between the lines: “We’re almost like a Costco but for healthcare,” says Vuong, adding that unlike a health insurance company, Mira doesn’t underwrite or take on any risk.

Yes, but: That's because Mira doesn’t cover everything traditional insurance does, such as hospital stays and surgery.

  • So while it can help patients who want access to just the basics at an affordable rate, it won’t take care of every medical expense they could ever run into.

What’s next: Mira plans to continue expanding around the country, with plans to add 50 more health care providers in the next month and reach at least 5,000 members in the next 12 months, says Vuong.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 15, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: Affordability and the next administration

On Friday, January 15, Axios' Caitlin Owens hosted a conversation on the future of health care affordability with a new Biden administration, featuring former CMS administrator Dr. Mark McClellan and former Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.)

Dr. Mark McClellan discussed the priorities of the incoming Biden administration and challenges in health care access and affordability exacerbated by the pandemic.

  • On President-elect Biden dealing with the pandemic: "[He] was elected above all else for an effective response to the crisis. And that means the first round of legislation has to focus on more effective vaccination, more effective testing, reopening the economy, and giving people the economic support they need."
  • On people not getting the care they need during the pandemic: "We've seen a lot of health care complications because people did not get help. We don't have a strong public health system in this country...Most people did not get help. If they were at risk for infections, they had to go find a way to get tested on their own."

Rep. Greg Walden unpacked the value of telemedicine and creating an affordable, patient-centered health care system.

  • How technology can bridge existing health gaps: "We've learned the importance and practicality of getting health care closer to the patient. I'm speaking specifically about telemedicine. I think it can be both cost-effective and so much more convenient for the patient...You shouldn't have to rush into a hospital for everything you need."

Axios Vice President Yolanda Taylor Brignoni hosted a View from the Top segment with the CEO of OptumHealth, UnitedHealth Group, Dr. Wyatt W. Decker, who discussed the pandemic as a moment for the industry to think differently about how they provide accessible care.

  • On the potential for telemedicine: "Let's put the decision-making, good information, and support in the hands of a person and help provide them with digital tools that can give them easy access to health care with excellent outcomes. We [can] do this in a whole variety of ways by providing telehealth solutions."

Thank you UnitedHealth Group for sponsoring this event.

35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Jen Psaki: "With that I’d love to take your questions”

In her inaugural briefing as White House press secretary, Jen Psaki said she has a “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy,” and pledged to hold daily briefings.

Why it matters: Conferences with the press secretary in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room became almost non-existent under the Trump administration. By sending Psaki to the podium hours after President Biden took the oath of office, the White House signaled a return to pre-Trump norms.

Avril Haines confirmed as director of national intelligence

Haines. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Image

Avril Haines was quickly confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday as the director of national intelligence (DNI) in a vote of 84-10.

Why it matters: Haines is the first of President Biden's nominees to receive a full Senate confirmation and she will be the first woman to serve as DNI. She's previously served as CIA deputy director from 2013 to 2015 and deputy national security adviser from 2015 to 2017.

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