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GoHealth's remedy for health-plan headaches

Brandon Cruz and Clint Jones were just a couple of recent college graduates who didn't know much about health insurance when they plunked down $5,000 each on a startup to help agents do a better job.

Today their investment has ballooned into GoHealth LLC, a $50 million-plus health-technology firm that offers a Web portal where consumers can compare thousands of combinations of health care plans and buy insurance. Since launching in 2001, the two have gone from a Lincoln Park coach house that doubled as their home and company headquarters to a trendy River North office, an adjacent building and a third office in the West Loop to house their 450 employees.Bigger things are in store. In June, GoHealth, originally Norvax Inc., snagged a $50 million equity investment from Minneapolis-based Norwest Equity Partners.

Scott Lingle, Indianapolis-based chief of sales at Health Insurance Innovations, who has worked with GoHealth since its early years, credits the company's success to poaching “the rock stars” of the technology and health care sales industries.

“What do you do when you have too much business?” Mr. Cruz says with a laugh. “You shut down, right?”

What started out as building customized websites and software for brokers to better manage clients and leads has grown into layers of products and revenue streams. Agents pay a match fee for GoHealth customer referrals, and if they have too many leads to keep up with, GoHealth buys and resells them to others.

GoHealth works with about 125 insurance companies, including Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois, the state's largest, and close to 20,000 agents, most independent.
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