Why We're Building First Dollar

Healthcare products are traditionally built to serve the healthcare industry.

Healthcare products are traditionally built to serve the healthcare industry. We are building the first one that serves people. 

While many startups might be thinking twice about launching in the middle of a global pandemic, the idea of launching a product designed to help people save and plan for a healthy life feels right. We are talking to our community every day, and we know that people are uncertain about their financial futures and worrying about how they might pay for health needs. Our goal as we started to think about First Dollar was to help people think about how to save and plan for a healthy, happy life. We think financial health and physical health are intertwined, and it feels like those needs are top of mind for so many people right now. While we’re in a private beta for the next month to get the product right, we can’t wait to open up First Dollar to everyone and start offering great options to help them meet the coming challenges.

My co-founder Colin and I didn’t plan to end up in healthcare. We share a passion for building beautiful products that improve the lives of our customers, but we didn’t start out focusing on healthcare. After a few great experiences creating products in travel, gaming and finance, we collaborated to build a successful care management software company, Patient IO, which was acquired by a large medical records company in 2016. We spent the past few years supporting athenahealth’s network of 160k providers. athenahealth essentially exists to help doctors get paid for providing care, a surprisingly complex process that involves chasing down insurance companies who don’t want to pay and patients who can’t afford to. This experience gave us a clear view into how healthcare isn’t serving people, and set us on the path that led to First Dollar.

We sat down and looked at the entire ecosystem of healthcare and saw many opportunities to make improvements. As we looked at the journey people take through the system, it became clear to us that the process for many starts with their health savings. As longtime HSA power users, we both love and hate our HSAs, but we see them as a beautiful lens through which to view the health care system. Planning and paying for healthcare is so important, but clarity and quality of information is so lacking. The existing HSA products are uninspiring to use and associated with high deductible plans that give people an uncertainty about being able to afford quality healthcare. This is a perception problem. Because of this perception problem, many Americans opt into more insurance than they need, giving their money to insurance companies instead of putting it towards their health and future. Ten years ago, D2C companies started changing expectations of cost and value. We love how Warby Parker changed the perception of what a fair price is for a pair of eyeglasses. We’re going to do that with healthcare. 

We believe that for every $1 you put into your First Dollar HSA, you should get $2 in value back in savings and spending.

That’s why today we are so excited to announce the first step in our journey to make healthcare work better for humans. The First Dollar HSA is built from scratch to be the most human-friendly health savings account. We are thinking through every detail to help people understand their health savings and be empowered to make the right choices for them. Our HSA is simple, informative, and 100% fee-free. We are also working on tools to help our customers find great health care at a fair price. We believe that for every $1 you put into your First Dollar HSA, you should get $2 in value back in savings and spending. A great savings account is useful. An ecosystem that helps you save intelligently and find the right products and services at fair prices is amazing. And that’s what we’re building.

Colin, Alex, Cody, Jeremy, Koley, Mike, Serena and I are a team of entrepreneurs, engineers & designers dedicating the next chapter of our lives to helping people save smartly and get great healthcare for a fair price. We can’t wait to make your money healthier.

Much, much more to come.

Jason Bornhorst

CEO & Co-founder

Josh Hostetler

Josh leads content for First Dollar, a fintech company that builds infrastructure for health spending benefits. Before First Dollar, Josh led course creation at Aceable, taught First Grade, waited tables at Olive Garden, and wore many other hats. He misses the breadsticks.