Cigna, Blue Shield of California join Cricket Health’s $83.5M funding round

Kidney care startup Cricket Health raised $83.5 million in a Series B funding round, include money from two major health insurers, the company announced Thursday.

Valtruis, a newly launched portfolio company focused on value-based care launched by private-equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe this week, led the $83.5 million funding round. Cigna and Blue Shield of California, two Cricket Health customers, also participated. Cigna was already a Cricket Health investor. Other participants included venture- and growth-equity investment firm Oak HC/FT and K2 HealthVentures, a firm that provides debt and equity capital.

Cricket Health, based in San Francisco, has raised more than $120 million in equity and debt financing to date, and will use the millions in new investments to expand its kidney care services.

Health insurers have been rushing to offload the risk of patients suffering from permanent kidney failure as end-stage renal disease patients became eligible to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans for the first time this year. Among their strategies are striking partnerships with startups such as Cricket Health, Monogram Health, Strive Health.

Monogram Health of Nashville, Tennessee, closed a $160 million Series B funding round in June, including an investment from Humana. Denver-based Strive Health raised $140 million in a Series B funding round in March led by Alphabet’s private equity arm CapitalG with support from St. Louis-based Ascension.

Cricket Health sells a two-pronged service to providers and payers: technologies that flag patients who need kidney care, as well as clinical care services.

The startup builds machine-learning and predictive tools that identify patients with chronic and end-stage kidney disease and stratify patient populations based on their risk for each stage of the disease, in an effort to reach patients early and begin providing care. Cricket Health also provides virtual and in-person patient-support services.

Medicare Advantage and commercial health plans contracting with Cricket Health have reported an increase in patients who receive dialysis in an outpatient setting or at home, as well as lower hospitalizations, the company said. Since May 2020, Cigna’s experienced a more than 50% reduction in hospitalizations among members with kidney disease, according to a news release.

Digital health startups globally raised nearly $15 billion in the first half of 2021, more than double the amount raised during the same period in 2020, according to data compiled by Mercom Capital Group, a market research firm. Nearly one-third of that funding went to companies that focused on providers and practices.


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