Walgreens Boots Alliance is an investor in SeekMedicare, a subsidiary of Clover Health that is one among a dozen issues related to the Medicare Advantage insurer’s business practices currently under federal investigation. Clover Health went public last month through a special purpose acquisition company led by former Facebook executive and “SPAC king” Chamath Palihapitiya.
The ties between Nashville, Tennessee-based Clover and Jersey City, New Jersey-based SeekMedicare were first detailed in a short-seller report released last week by Hindenburg Research, which says it does not have a position in Clover. That report alleged that SeekMedicare was misleading customers, because it claimed it was providing “unbiased” Medicare advice without disclosing that its parent company is a Medicare Advantage insurer. Walgreens has been encouraging its customers age 65 and older to use SeekMedicare to find health insurance.
SeekMedicare was one of twelve Clover Health topics being reviewed by the Department of Justice, according to a civil investigative demand sent to a former employee. Clover said it had been aware of the DOJ inquiry prior to going public, but did not judge that fact to be “material.” Following the Hindenburg report, the Securities and Exchange Commission opened a separate investigation into Clover Health. A Clover Health spokesperson said that neither Clover nor SeekMedicare had been contacted by the DOJ or SEC specifically regarding SeekMedicare.
SeekMedicare’s relationship to Clover Health, which is itself a Medicare Advantage Insurer, is not disclosed on its website.
A spokesperson for SeekMedicare confirmed Walgreens is an investor and that Jared Josleyn, a vice president of innovation at Walgreens, serves as a board observer. The global pharmacy chain did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Josleyn formerly led consumer health strategy and partnerships at Google Health and Verily, Google’s life sciences division. Alphabet’s venture arm GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) is also an investor in Clover Health.
A Medium post from SeekMedicare president Brady Priest published Friday additionally acknowledged a “strategic relationship” with Walgreens. This includes an in-person program in “almost 100 Walgreens stores” as part of building “a community-based program that intends to help local seniors find and understand their Medicare coverage options, while also providing meaningful, long-term career opportunities in each community that we enter.”
Priest, the former general counsel at Clover Health, says the concept for SeekMedicare “was developed inside Clover Health by Andrew Toy, Clover’s President and CTO, and Chris Watson, who is now SeekMedicare’s COO.” While several former Clover employees now work at SeekMedicare, this relationship is not disclosed on its website, which led to conflict of interest allegations in the Hindenburg report.
“Clover is a huge believer in information liquidity for Medicare-eligibles, as well as the concept of truly neutral guidance and informed decision-making. That’s why we seeded SeekMedicare,” Clover president Andrew Toy wrote in a Medium post.
On Friday, the SeekMedicare website got a revamp (though it still doesn’t mention ties to Clover). The tagline “We don’t work for insurance companies. We work for you,” was removed. It was changed to: “We do the work. So you get the best coverage.”