Author Health, a hybrid mental health startup helmed by ex-Optum leader Katherine Hobbs Knutson, landed a $115 million debut funding round.
The new company focuses on providing virtual and in-office mental health services to seniors with Medicare Advantage plans. It launched in 2022 and started seeing patients in January 2023, Knutson, CEO of the company, told Behavioral Health Business.
Author Health’s first partnership is with Louisville-based insurance and health care provider Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), and is focused on Southern Florida.
Boston-based Author Health will focus on treating seniors with serious mental illnesses (SMIs) and substance use disorders (SUDs).
Florida is a key market for Humana: 14% of its total premium revenue and 11% of its membership for 2022 came from contracts based in the state, according to an annual financial report.
This isn’t the first time Humana has engaged with a concept built around helping Medicare Advantage members become the authors of their own health. In 2020, Humana launched Author by Humana to manage the Southern Florida plans but folded it into the larger company as of June 1, 2022, according to its LinkedIn page.
Author Health plans to bring together geriatric psychiatrists, therapists, nurse practitioners and community health workers. On top of behavioral health care, Author provides health system navigation and primary care consultations.
The company will focus on establishing value-based care arrangements and will partner closely with primary care providers. Author Health’s partnership with Humana includes engaging with CenterWell Senior Primary Care. Humana owns CenterWell. Author Health will engage with the southeastern CenterWell clinics.
Author Health will eventually expand into more states, partner with more insurers and expand the populations it covers with the $115 million, according to a news release.
Humana CEO Bruce Broussard said in February 2021 that Author by Humana managed “five Medicare Advantage plans with approximately 13,500 members.”
General Atlantic led the funding round; Flare Capital Partners also participated. Author Health secured its first bit of funding in November 2022, Knutson said.
Knutson comes to the Author Health CEO role after being the CEO of Optum Behavioral Health for a few years. She also held the title of senior vice president at UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH), Optum’s parent company. She’s a trained psychiatrist and has been a behavioral health executive since 2013.
At Behavioral Health Business’ 2022 INVEST conference, she said Optum and UnitedHealth Group saw the power of value-based care in addressing the interplay of physical and behavioral health. She also highlighted the pain point for insurers trying to find innovations and services on the market that help them address diverse populations. Often, those solutions are narrowly tailored.
Humana has also previously articulated its interest in behavioral health and value-based care. In April, Behavioral Health Business reported that 58% of its 2.1 million Medicare Advantage behavioral health claims had a value-based link.