Kunai Partners With BuoyFi To Build Medical-Debt Relief App To Tackle $88 Billion Medical Debt Epidemic

What is BuoyFi?
Subsidiary of Capio, the largest purchaser of healthcare receivables
Customer-centric app designed to tackle the $88b medical debt epidemic.
Built by Kunai in 2022-2023


BuoyFi is a consumer app designed to tackle the $88b medical debt epidemic.

Established in 2021 by Capio, the largest purchaser of healthcare receivables, BuoyFi’s goal was to establish long term financial wellness for their customer base and the general public.

To that end, they planned to build a free-to-use web and mobile app to help consumers with their medical debt.

The Challenge

In 2020, Capio funded a consumer study with harrowing results. An estimated 41% of Americans suffer from medical debt with little hope of ever seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite a strong desire to pay their debt, the huge industry-standard monthly payments were an insurmountable wall that debtors could not climb.

“Patients struggling with medical debt want to pay what they can afford for the quality care they receive, but they often need help taking the first step forward when the medical bills are more than they can pay,” said Steve Wright, President of BuoyFi. The immense problems the BuoyFi app needed to solve permeated the entire $88 billion dollar medical debt industry, and as far as anyone could tell, such a thing had never been attempted.

Customers Unable To Navigate Debt

One of the biggest issues customers faced was an inability to navigate their own debt. The majority of debtors were sending unsustainable amounts of their wages to meet the minimum monthly payment.

According to Wright, many consumers are unaware of the fact that medical debt is oftentimes negotiable. Customers needed to be informed of all their options.

Finding the Right Devs

Developing BuoyFi would require deep experience in both the healthcare and financial industries. BuoyFi wanted to provide a way for customers to navigate their debt and send payments in one place.

The right development team would need to possess a market-tested expertise in compliance standards including, but not limited to, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and FCRA. And given the sensitive nature of user data, they would also have to have experience with cybersecurity practices to protect against cyber threats and breaches.

Lastly, given the constant evolution of compliance, security, and regulations– the development team would have to be highly flexible, able to adapt to sudden changes, juggle multiple vendors, and develop around short timetables without compromising quality.

The Solution

Capio initially set out to work with Kunai to build a basic customer bill pay portal. With Kunai’s deep understanding of Plaid and integration experience, they were a perfect fit for this task.

However, it was during this time when Capio received the results of their 2020 consumer study.

With the results of the study in hand, both parties agreed that this payment portal app could be reimagined and re-equipped to provide a solution for the problems highlighted in the study.

“Think of how many people silently suffer in shame with this problem. This dark cloud constantly in the back of their minds. We were captivated by the mission that BuoyFi set out to achieve and really wanted to be a part of the solution for millions of Americans,” said Sandeep Sood, CEO of Kunai.

Kunai was uniquely equipped to make this pivot and develop BuoyFi. With their already vast FinTech integration experience, compliance expertise, and nimble product development team– Kunai formulated a detailed solution plan, executed on their development schedule, and built a customer-centric finance app designed to help customers navigate and reduce their medical debt.

The Process

BuoyFi– Vision To Reality

Kunai built out the BuoyFi app with multiple advanced features addressing the most pressing issues discovered in the study.

With their expertise on Plaid and financial integrations, their turnaround time on development was fast without compromising on quality or compliance. However, the process was not without obstacles.

During the development process, some vendors took an extraordinarily long time to work through the contract phase and approvals. Development briefly came to a pause and both Kunai and Capio were faced with a tough decision: Continue to pause development and wait for their partners to deliver, or move forward without them.

Faced with a tough prioritization situation, Kunai swiftly addressed the issue by adjusting their development schedule. Their nimble development team allowed them to seamlessly adjust their development milestones in response to the sudden obstacle.

By focusing their initial sprints on other areas of the project while waiting for the integration partners to come onboard, Kunai built the last sprints first so as to not waste BuoyFi’s time or funds.

In the end, Kunai successfully developed the BuoyFi app as envisioned by both Capio and BuoyFi.

Development turnaround was fast, and a free-to-use web and mobile application designed to help customers feel relief from the burden of medical debt was born.

“It isn’t common to find ways to help solve world problems for the general public as a software product manager. Working on this application from its inception on a cocktail napkin has been one of the most notable accomplishments of my career. I have enjoyed working with the BuoyFi team and share their spirit of helping others in need,” said Steve Van De Steene, Senior Product Manager at Kunai.

The Result

Free-To-Use App: BuoyFi

The BuoyFi app collects several medical debt related tools into a single mobile and web application to give those struggling with medical debt some much needed assistance.

BuoyFi’s feature set approaches consumer medical debt with a holistic approach. This approach helps customers understand their debt, shows them how to negotiate exponentially lower monthly payments, helps them lower their overall debt, makes it easier to pay from one place, and educates them with financial literacy tailored to specific demographics.

Feature: BuoyFi Calculator

The BuoyFi calculator allows account holders to get out from under large monthly payments by calculating drastically reduced minimum payments and settlement guidelines.

By gathering basic details about the account holder's debt balances and household monthly income, the application uses industry accepted percentages to calculate what the user's monthly payment should be.

The user can take these guidelines in the form of a PDF to their medical debt holder to negotiate a lower monthly payment and even a much lower balance.

Feature: Savings & Payments

Savings & Payments is a tool that allows users to put payments towards their medical debt via two methods.

The first method is a unique mechanism that allows customers to make a series of micro payments towards their balances. The user can connect their checking account to BuoyFi, allowing the app to round up all purchases to the nearest dollar.

The funds obtained from this mechanism will then be kept in a new account that the user can put toward their medical debt balances.

The second method allows users to make direct payments to their medical debt with third party integrations such as Plaid and BillGo.

This method simplifies the payment process, allowing users to make all of their payments from the same platform that helped them navigate and reduce their debt.

Feature: Financial Education

The BuoyFi app features a library of financial education tools.

The BuoyFi app features a library of financial education tools with specially curated content.

This library of resources is designed to help customers learn more about the concepts they need in order to make healthy financial decisions.

Since not everyone’s financial situation is the same across all demographics, the information is tailored to an individual’s specific situation and demographic like seniors, veterans, or people with disabilities.

An Evolving Platform

This is just the beginning for BuoyFi. The platform is always looking to build out new features and expand on current toolsets.

Kunai is currently working with BuoyFi to introduce secured credit card offerings and additional savings tools. There is a long list of features for the BuoyFi app to help consumers find new ways to get out of crushing medical debt.

Since release, BuoyFi has been actively helping consumers find relief from their medical debt in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and the Worldwide Web.

Hundreds of users have already found the attractive low payment options that the BuoyFi app offers to them. And in many cases, BuoyFi guidelines offer 80% forgiveness to the balances the account holders reported.

The number of users who’ll find relief from medical debt will only increase in the future. This is only just the first step in tackling this $88 billion problem.