Company Quick10K Filing
eHealth
Price75.05 EPS0
Shares23 P/E426
MCap1,763 P/FCF-120
Net Debt-91 EBIT-14
TEV1,672 TEV/EBIT-121
TTM 2019-09-30, in MM, except price, ratios
10-K 2020-12-31 Filed 2021-02-26
10-Q 2020-09-30 Filed 2020-11-05
10-Q 2020-06-30 Filed 2020-08-06
10-Q 2020-03-31 Filed 2020-05-11
10-K 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-03-02
10-Q 2019-09-30 Filed 2019-11-08
10-Q 2019-06-30 Filed 2019-08-08
10-Q 2019-03-31 Filed 2019-05-07
10-K 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-03-14
10-Q 2018-09-30 Filed 2018-11-06
10-Q 2018-06-30 Filed 2018-08-07
10-Q 2018-03-31 Filed 2018-05-09
10-K 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-03-19
10-Q 2017-09-30 Filed 2017-11-07
10-Q 2017-06-30 Filed 2017-08-07
10-Q 2017-03-31 Filed 2017-05-05
10-K 2016-12-31 Filed 2017-03-16
10-Q 2016-09-30 Filed 2016-11-08
10-Q 2016-06-30 Filed 2016-08-08
10-Q 2016-03-31 Filed 2016-05-09
10-K 2015-12-31 Filed 2016-03-14
10-Q 2015-09-30 Filed 2015-11-06
10-Q 2015-06-30 Filed 2015-08-07
10-Q 2015-03-31 Filed 2015-05-08
10-K 2014-12-31 Filed 2015-03-16
10-Q 2014-09-30 Filed 2014-11-10
10-Q 2014-06-30 Filed 2014-08-08
10-Q 2014-03-31 Filed 2014-05-09
10-K 2013-12-31 Filed 2014-03-12
10-Q 2013-09-30 Filed 2013-11-08
10-Q 2013-06-30 Filed 2013-08-07
10-Q 2013-03-31 Filed 2013-05-07
10-K 2012-12-31 Filed 2013-03-13
10-Q 2012-09-30 Filed 2012-11-06
10-Q 2012-06-30 Filed 2012-08-09
10-Q 2012-03-31 Filed 2012-05-08
10-K 2011-12-31 Filed 2012-03-15
10-Q 2011-09-30 Filed 2011-11-08
10-Q 2011-06-30 Filed 2011-08-05
10-Q 2011-03-31 Filed 2011-05-06
10-K 2010-12-31 Filed 2011-03-15
10-Q 2010-09-30 Filed 2010-11-09
10-Q 2010-06-30 Filed 2010-08-09
10-Q 2010-03-31 Filed 2010-05-10
10-K 2009-12-31 Filed 2010-03-05
8-K 2021-02-18 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2021-02-17 Enter Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Sale of Shares, Exhibits
8-K 2021-02-10 Officers
8-K 2021-01-29 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2021-01-29 Enter Agreement, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2020-10-22
8-K 2020-08-14
8-K 2020-07-23
8-K 2020-06-09
8-K 2020-06-04
8-K 2020-04-23
8-K 2020-03-03
8-K 2020-02-20
8-K 2020-02-20
8-K 2020-01-29
8-K 2020-01-23
8-K 2019-12-20
8-K 2019-11-19
8-K 2019-10-24
8-K 2019-10-24
8-K 2019-09-06
8-K 2019-08-29
8-K 2019-08-19
8-K 2019-08-06
8-K 2019-07-25
8-K 2019-06-14
8-K 2019-06-10
8-K 2019-06-07
8-K 2019-05-13
8-K 2019-05-06
8-K 2019-05-03
8-K 2019-04-25
8-K 2019-04-11
8-K 2019-03-26
8-K 2019-02-21
8-K 2019-01-24
8-K 2019-01-22
8-K 2019-01-22
8-K 2018-12-21
8-K 2018-12-17
8-K 2018-11-27
8-K 2018-10-25
8-K 2018-09-18
8-K 2018-07-26
8-K 2018-06-12
8-K 2018-05-31
8-K 2018-04-25
8-K 2018-04-24
8-K 2018-03-29
8-K 2018-03-01
8-K 2018-01-22
8-K 2018-01-16

EHTH 10K Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Note 1 - Summary of Business and Significant Accounting Policies
Note 2 - Revenue
Note 3 - Acquisition
Note 4 - Supplemental Financial Statement Information
Note 5 - Fair Value Measurements
Note 6 - Equity
Note 7 - Net Income per Share
Note 8 - Commitments and Contingencies
Note 9 - Segment and Geographic Information
Note 10 - Leases
Note 11 - Debt
Note 12 - Income Taxes
Note 13 - Subsequent Event
Item 9.Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B.Other Information
Part III
Item 10.Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12.Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13.Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14.Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Part IV
Item 15.Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16.Form 10 - K Summary
EX-10.2 ex102formindemnificationag.htm
EX-10.8 exhibit108severanceagreeme.htm
EX-23.1 a202010-kex231.htm
EX-31.1 a2020q4ex311.htm
EX-31.2 a2020q4ex312.htm
EX-32.1 a2020q4ex321.htm
EX-32.2 a2020q4ex322.htm

eHealth Earnings 2020-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow
0.60.50.40.20.10.02012201420172020
Assets, Equity
0.20.10.10.0-0.0-0.12012201420172020
Rev, G Profit, Net Income
0.20.10.10.0-0.0-0.12012201420172020
Ops, Inv, Fin

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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K

   ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

OR

  TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from ____ to ____

Commission file number: 001-33071
_____________________________________________

EHEALTH, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
_____________________________________________
Delaware
56-2357876
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)(I.R.S Employer Identification No)

2625 AUGUSTINE DRIVE, SECOND FLOOR
SANTA CLARA, CA 95054
 (Address of principal executive offices)

(650) 584-2700
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading SymbolName of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.001 per shareEHTHThe Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
 Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulations S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).  Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filer
Non-accelerated filerSmaller reporting company
Emerging growth Company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).  Yes No
Based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock on the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, which was June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of its shares (based on a closing price of $98.24 per share) held by non-affiliates was $1.5 billion. Shares of the registrant’s common stock held by each executive officer and director and by each entity or person that owned five percent or more of the registrant’s outstanding common stock were excluded as such persons may be deemed to be affiliates. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.
The number of shares of the registrant’s common stock, par value $0.001 per share, outstanding as of February 16, 2021 was 25,932,593 shares.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which is expected to be filed within 120 days after the Company’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein. 




EHEALTH, INC.
FORM 10-K

TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE
PART I
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
PART II
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
PART III
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
PART IV
Item 15.
Item 16.

1


Summary of Risk Factors

Our business is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including those risks discussed at length below. The following is a summary of the principal risks we face, any of which could adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition or prospects:

If our ability to enroll individuals during enrollment periods is impeded or if investments we make in enrollment periods do not result in the returns we expected when making those investments, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed.
We may be unsuccessful in competing effectively against current and future competitors, including government-run health insurance exchanges.
Our business may be harmed if we lose our relationship with health insurance carriers or our relationship with health insurance carriers is modified.
Our financial results will be adversely impacted if our membership does not grow or if we are not able to successfully retain our existing members and limit health insurance plan termination.
If we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our business and operating results will be harmed.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and public health crises, illness, epidemics or pandemics could adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.
Our business may be harmed if we are not successful in executing on our strategic investments and initiatives, including our growth strategy and retention initiatives.
The success of our customer care center operations depends upon our ability to timely hire, train, retain and ensure the productivity of our licensed health insurance agents.
If we are not successful in cost-effectively converting visitors to our website and customers who call into our call centers into members for whom we receive commissions, our business and operating results would be harmed. 
We depend upon Internet search engines and social media platforms to attract a significant portion of the consumers who visit our website, and if we are unable to effectively advertise on search engines or social media platforms on a cost-effective basis, our business and operating results would be harmed.
We rely significantly on marketing partners and our business and operating results would be harmed if we are unable to maintain effective relationships with our existing marketing partners or if we do not establish successful relationships with new marketing partners.
Our future operating results are likely to fluctuate and could fall short of expectations. 
The marketing and sale of Medicare plans are subject to numerous, complex and frequently changing laws, regulations and guidelines, and non-compliance with or changes in laws, regulations and guidelines could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.
Changes and developments in the health insurance industry or system as a result of health care reform could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.
Our success in selling health insurance is dependent in part on the actions of federal and state governments. Changes in the laws and regulations governing the offer, sale and purchase of health insurance could harm our business and operating results.
Our business is subject to security risks and, if we experience cyberattacks, security breaches or are otherwise unable to safeguard the security and privacy of confidential data, including personal health information, our business will be harmed.
Our operating results will be impacted by factors that impact our estimate of the constrained lifetime value, or LTV, of commissions per approved member.
The closing of the financing transaction with the purchaser of our Series A preferred stock is subject to terms and conditions, many of which are outside our control. We may experience delays and difficulties with the closing of the transaction and no assurance can be given that it will close. The failure to close the financing transaction would adversely impact our liquidity and our financial condition.
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Forward-Looking Statements

In addition to historical information, this Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The words “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “target,” “goal,” “project,” “hope,” “intend,” “plan,” “seek,” “continue,” “may,” “could,” “should,” “might,” “forecast,” and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements include, among other things, statements regarding our expectations relating to approved members, new paying members, online enrollments and estimated membership; our estimates regarding the constrained lifetime value of commissions and commissions receivable; our expectations relating to revenue, operating costs, cash flows and profitability; our expectations regarding our strategy and investments; our expectations regarding our Medicare business, including market opportunity, consumer demand and our competitive advantage; our expectations regarding our individual and family business, including anticipated trends and our ability to enroll individuals and families into qualified health plans; the impact of future and existing laws and regulations on our business; the expected impact of the COVID-19 on our business; our expectations regarding commission rates, payment rates, conversion rates, plan termination rates and duration, membership retention rates and membership acquisition costs; our ability to improve customer engagement and retention; our expectations regarding our ability to hire, retain, train and ensure the productivity of our health insurance agents; our expectations relating to the seasonality of our business; expected competition from government-run health insurance exchanges and other sources; our expectations relating to marketing and advertising expense and expected contributions from our online marketing and strategic partnership channels; the timing of our receipt of commission and other payments; our critical accounting policies and related estimates; liquidity and capital needs; political, legislative, regulatory and legal challenges; the merits or potential impact of any lawsuits filed against us; as well as other statements regarding our future operations, financial condition, prospects and business strategies.
We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations about future events. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Our actual results may differ materially from those suggested by these forward-looking statements for various reasons, including our ability to retain existing members and enroll new members during the annual healthcare open enrollment period, the Medicare annual enrollment period and a COVID-19-related or other special enrollment period; changes in laws, regulations and guidelines, including in connection with healthcare reform or with respect to the marketing and sale of Medicare plans; competition from government-run health insurance exchanges and other sources; the seasonality of our business and the fluctuation of our operating results; our ability to accurately estimate membership, lifetime value of commissions and commissions receivable; changes in product offerings among carriers on our ecommerce platform and the resulting impact on our commission revenue; our ability to execute on our growth strategy in the Medicare market; the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations, business, financial condition and growth prospects, as well as on the general economy; changes in our management and key employees; exposure to security risks and our ability to safeguard the security and privacy of confidential data; our relationships with health insurance carriers; customer concentration; our success in marketing and selling health insurance plans and our unit cost of acquisition; our ability to hire, train, retain and ensure the productivity of licensed health insurance agents and other employees; changes in the market for private health insurance; consumer satisfaction of our service; changes in member conversion rates; changes in commission rates; our ability to sell qualified health insurance plans to subsidy-eligible individuals and to enroll subsidy-eligible individuals through government-run health insurance exchanges; our ability to maintain and enhance our brand identity; our ability to derive desired benefits from investments in our business, including membership growth and retention initiatives; reliance on marketing partners; the impact of our direct-to-consumer email, telephone and television marketing efforts; timing of receipt and accuracy of commission reports; payment practices of health insurance carriers; dependence on our operations in China; the restrictions in our debt obligations; the restrictions in our investment agreement with H.I.G, compliance with insurance and other laws and regulations; the outcome of litigation in which we are involved; and the performance, reliability and availability of our information technology systems, ecommerce platform and underlying network infrastructure and those identified under the heading “Risk Factors” in Part II, Item 1A. of this report and those discussed in our other Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Given these risks and uncertainties, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements included in this report are made only as of the date hereof. Except as required by applicable law, we do not undertake, and specifically decline, any obligation to update any of these statements or to publicly announce the results of any revisions to any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, changes in assumptions or otherwise.
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PART I

ITEM 1.    BUSINESS

Overview

We are a leading health insurance marketplace with a technology and service platform that provides consumer engagement, education and health insurance enrollment solutions. Our mission is to connect every person with the highest quality, most affordable health insurance and Medicare plans for their life circumstance. Our platform integrates proprietary and third-party developed educational content regarding health insurance plans with decision support tools to aid consumers in what has traditionally been a confusing and opaque purchasing process and to help them obtain the health insurance product that meets their individual health and economic needs. Our omnichannel consumer engagement platform enables consumers to use our services online, through interactive chat, or by telephone with a licensed insurance agent. We have created a marketplace that offers consumers a broad choice of insurance products that includes thousands of Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Part D prescription drug, individual and family, small business and other ancillary health insurance products from over 200 health insurance carriers across all fifty states and the District of Columbia. We strive to be the most trusted partner to the consumer in their life’s journey through the health insurance market. We were incorporated in Delaware in November 1997.

Our shift toward the health insurance market for Medicare eligible individuals has enabled us to mitigate the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Affordable Care Act, on our business, which among other things, established competing government exchanges that offer non-Medicare, Affordable Care Act-compliant individual and family health insurance plans.

We operate our business in two segments: (1) Medicare, and (2) Individual, Family and Small Business. Our Medicare segment represents the majority of our business and constituted approximately 89% of our revenue in 2020. We derive the majority of our revenues from commission payments paid to us by health insurance carriers related to insurance plans that have been purchased by members who used our services. Our platform and services are free to the consumer, and we are not responsible for the payment of consumer health insurance claims.

Our focus on marketing of Medicare-related health insurance products has enabled our business to benefit from (1) strong demographic trends, with 10,000 people on average turning 65 every day over the next ten years, (2) the increasing proportion of the Medicare eligible population that is choosing commercial insurance solutions rather than obtaining healthcare through the original Medicare program, and (3) the growing consumer demand for online tools to compare and enroll in Medicare related health insurance plans.

In January 2018, we completed our acquisition of Wealth, Health and Life Advisors, LLC, more commonly known as GoMedigap, a technology-enabled provider of Medicare Supplement enrollment services. GoMedigap has built a leading consumer acquisition and engagement platform focused on meeting the Medicare Supplement insurance needs of its individual consumer with a technology-enabled, consumer-centric approach that aligns with our mission and operations. This strategic acquisition enhanced our presence in the Medicare Supplement market, put us in a stronger position with health insurance carriers and strategic partners and helped us to accelerate our Medicare plan enrollment growth.

In January 2019, we entered into an underwriting agreement with RBC Capital Markets, LLC and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC as representatives of the several underwriters to issue and sell a total of 2,760,000 shares of our common stock in a public offering, which total included the exercise in full of the underwriters’ option to purchase 360,000 additional shares of common stock, at a price to the public of $48.50 per share, for total net proceeds of $126.2 million, after deducting underwriting discounts, commissions and offering expenses.

In March 2020, we entered into an underwriting agreement to issue and sell a total of 2,070,000 shares of our common stock, which total included the exercise in full of the underwriters’ option to purchase 270,000 additional shares of common stock, at a price to the public of $115.00 per share. Net proceeds from the offering
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were approximately $228.0 million after deducting underwriting discounts, commissions and expenses of the offering.

On February 17, 2021, we entered into an investment agreement with Echelon Health SPV, LP, an investment vehicle of H.I.G. Capital (“H.I.G.”), pursuant to which we have agreed to sell to H.I.G. at closing, 2,250,000 shares of our newly designated Series A preferred stock, par value $0.001 per share, at an aggregate purchase price of $225.0 million (the “Private Placement”). The Private Placement is subject to closing conditions, including, among others: (i) the expiration or early termination of the waiting period (and any extension thereof) applicable to the consummation of the Private Placement under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended; (ii) the confirmation by Nasdaq that it has no objection to the terms and conditions of the Private Placement; and (iii) the determination that consummation of the Private Placement would not cause our outside auditor to no longer be deemed independent under the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The parties have agreed to cooperate with each other and use reasonable best efforts to promptly take such actions to cause the closing conditions to be satisfied as promptly as reasonably practicable.


Available Information

We make available free of charge on the Investor Relations page of our web site (ir.ehealthinsurance.com
our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as soon as reasonably practicable after we file such material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. The SEC also maintains an Internet website (www.sec.gov) that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The information that can be accessed on or through our websites is not part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


Our Business Model

Our management evaluates our business performance and manages our operations in the following two segments:

Medicare Segment

Through a combination of demand generation strategies, we actively market, a large selection of Medicare-related health insurance plans, and to a lesser extent, ancillary products such as dental and vision insurance, to our Medicare-eligible consumers. Our Medicare ecommerce platform, which can be accessed through our websites (www.eHealthMedicare.com, www.Medicare.com, www.PlanPrescriber.com and www.GoMedigap.com), and telephonic enrollment capabilities enable consumers to research, compare and purchase Medicare-related health insurance plans, including Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. To the extent that we assist in the sale of Medicare-related insurance plans as a health insurance agent, either online or telephonically, we generate revenue as a result of commissions we receive from health insurance carriers. In the first effective plan year of a Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, after the health insurance carrier approves the application, we are paid a fixed commission that is prorated for the number of months remaining in the calendar year. Additionally, if the plan is the first Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan issued to the member, we may receive a higher commission amount that covers a full twelve-month period, regardless of the month the plan was effective. Beginning with and subsequent to the second plan year, we typically receive fixed, monthly commissions for Medicare Advantage plans and fixed, annual commissions for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. We are paid commissions for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans for which we are the broker of record, typically until either the plan is cancelled or we otherwise do not remain the agent on the plan. Commission payments we receive for Medicare Supplement plans sold by us typically are a percentage of the premium on the plan and are paid to us monthly until
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either the plan is cancelled or we otherwise do not remain the agent on the plan. Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan pricing is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and is not subject to negotiation or discounting by health insurance carriers or our competitors. Similarly, Medicare Supplement plan pricing is set by the health insurance carrier and approved by state regulators and is not subject to negotiation or discounting by health insurance carriers or our competitors.

Individual, Family and Small Business Segment

We actively market individual and family health insurance and small business health insurance plans through our ecommerce platform, which can be accessed through our websites (www.eHealth.com and www.eHealthInsurance.com), and generate revenue as a result of commissions we receive from health insurance carriers whose health insurance plans are purchased through us, as well as commission override payments we receive for achieving sales volume thresholds or other objectives. In addition, we market a variety of ancillary products, including but not limited to, short-term limited duration, dental and vision plans. These ancillary products are offered to individual and family and small business consumers and are also sold on a standalone basis. The commission payments we receive for individual and family, small business and ancillary health insurance plans are either a percentage of the premium consumers pay for those plans or a flat amount per member per month, and vary depending on the carrier that is offering the plan, the state where the plan was sold and the size of the small business. Commission payments are typically made to us on a monthly basis until either the plan is cancelled or we otherwise do not remain the agent on the plan. Health insurance pricing, which is set by the health insurance carrier and approved by state regulators, is not subject to negotiation or discounting by health insurance carriers or our competitors.


Non-Commission Revenue Sources

Within our two operating segments, we earn commission revenue, as well as non-commission revenue, or other revenue, which includes online sponsorship and advertising, lead referral, and technology licensing revenue.

Online Sponsorship and Advertising. We generate revenue from our sponsorship and advertising program that allows carriers to purchase advertising space for non-Medicare products on our website and Medicare plan related advertising on separate websites that we develop, host and maintain. In addition, in connection with our Medicare plan advertising program, we may engage in other marketing activities. In return for our services, we typically are paid either a flat amount, a monthly amount, or, in our individual and family health insurance sponsorship advertising program, a performance-based fee based on metrics such as submitted health insurance applications.

Lead Referrals. We generate revenue from the sale of Medicare-related and individual and family health insurance leads generated by our ecommerce platforms and our marketing activities.

Technology Licensing. We generate revenue from licensing the use of our health insurance ecommerce technology. Our technology platform enables health insurance carriers to market and distribute health insurance plans online. Health insurance carriers that license our technology typically pay us implementation fees and performance-based fees that are based on metrics such as submitted health insurance applications.

Additional financial information about our company is included in Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


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Industry Background

The purchase and sale of health insurance have historically been complex, time-consuming and paper-intensive processes. The complexity can make it difficult to make informed health insurance decisions. In addition, the human errors that arise from traditional paper-intensive distribution have historically resulted in a high number of incomplete and inaccurate applications being submitted to health insurance carriers. These incomplete and inaccurate paper applications often result in back-and-forth communications, delay and additional costs. The Internet’s convenient, information-rich and interactive nature offers the opportunity to provide consumers with more organized up-to-date information, a broader choice of plans and a more efficient and accurate process than have typically been available from traditional health insurance distribution channels. We believe that over time the Internet will become an increasingly important channel for researching and enrolling into health insurance plans, similar to other consumer-focused industries such as travel, financial services and shopping.

Medicare is a federal program that provides persons sixty-five years of age and over, and some persons under the age of sixty-five who meet certain conditions, with hospital and medical insurance benefits. Medicare beneficiaries choose between Medicare Fee-For-Service and Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Fee-For-Service is a government plan where the consumer is responsible for select health care related payments with no limit on out-of-pocket expenses. To increase coverage, Medicare Fee-For-Service beneficiaries can purchase commercially offered Medicare Supplement plans. Medicare Advantage is an alternative to Medicare Fee-For-Service. CMS contracts with private health insurance carriers under the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug programs. Under these programs, the government pays health insurance carriers per enrollee to cover health care expenses rather than the government making payments directly to providers under Medicare Fee-For-Service. Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover the same services as Medicare Fee-For-Service and usually cover a variety of other health care services and include a cap on out-of-pocket spending for the consumer.

Individual and family products are typically purchased by consumers under 65 years of age that do not have coverage through their employer. Small business group health insurance addresses the health insurance needs of businesses with 100 or fewer employees, although we have chosen to focus on employer groups of 20 or fewer employees. Individual, family and small business health insurance has historically been sold by independent insurance agents and, to a lesser degree, directly by insurance companies. Many of these agents are self-employed or part of small agencies, and they typically service only their local communities. In addition, many of these agents sell health insurance from a limited number of insurance carriers (in some cases only one), resulting in a reduced selection of plans for the consumer.

Our Growth Strategy

We believe our consumer engagement platform and approach to bringing value to consumers is unique in the health insurance market and creates significant opportunities for growth in our core Medicare business and in other areas of the health insurance market. We intend to pursue the following strategies to further advance our business.

Increase Medicare Membership and Commission Revenue

We intend to enroll additional Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan members for our commercial carrier partners. In addition to the expansion of the Medicare-eligible population, a significantly large number of Medicare-eligible individuals have insufficient coverage or a suboptimal plan for their circumstances. We believe that our platform of proprietary content, decision support tools and enrollment solutions and go-to-market strategies in direct-to-consumer and partner channels, can allow us to reach a large portion of this underserved market and grow our membership and revenue more rapidly than the overall Medicare market.

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Enhance Post-Enrollment Consumer Engagement and Increase Customer Retention

In 2020, we implemented a comprehensive customer retention program in our Medicare business. At the core of the program is a proactive post-enrollment engagement as customers start utilizing their Medicare policies. This engagement is achieved through a combination of agent and technology-driven initiatives. We are also enhancing our consumer experience, both online and telephonically, to simplify and encourage the use of our platform for future enrollments and further increase the accuracy of plan recommendations.  Our goal is to not only drive higher retention rates for our existing Medicare customers but also increase the contribution from repeat customers to our new enrollments.  We believe that increased consumer engagement and customer retention will have a positive impact on our revenue as well as lower our marketing, customer care and enrollment costs.

Increase Online Enrollment to Improve Margins and Enhance Operating Leverage

We view our consumer engagement platform as unique in the Medicare market and attractive to the growing number of Medicare beneficiaries who prefer to research, compare and purchase health insurance online through a hybrid process with partial agent assistance. We believe that over time the Internet will become an increasingly important channel for researching and enrolling into health insurance plans allowing us to capture a growing share of the Medicare distribution market. The percentage of members who submit applications for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement products online, including fully unassisted and partially agent assisted online enrollments, has substantially increased from 16% in 2018 to 27% in 2019 to 37% in 2020. We are able to scale growth more rapidly and at an incrementally lower cost basis though our online platform, which we expect will significantly reduce our investments in call center operations over time.

Expand Our Strategic Relationships

The value of our consumer engagement and enrollment solution platform allows us to work closely with strategic partners in the health care market to leverage their relationships with consumers. We expect to increase the contribution to total Medicare enrollments from this effective demand generation channel which has shown a positive impact on consumer engagement and increased member retention. In 2020, we had strategic relationships with each of the top four retail pharmacies in the United States, a growing network of leading hospital systems in the United States and with select financial and affinity marketing organizations to expand the availability of our platform to more consumers. Through greater data integration, co-branding and further investments to improve the consumer experience with our platform, we believe that we can create significant value for each of our partners and further expand our partner relationships.

Acquire Capabilities that Leverage our Consumer Engagement Platform

We intend to pursue strategic relationships or acquisitions that expand our platform, provide additional capabilities or enable us to access adjacent markets within the broader health insurance and related consumer facing segments of the healthcare industry. We acquired GoMedigap in January 2018 to help us expand our presence and engagement capabilities in the Medicare Supplement market.


Our Platforms and Technology

Our ecommerce platforms and consumer engagement solutions are built to provide market leading information, decision support and transactional services to a broad group of health insurance consumers across the country while prioritizing accessibility to health insurance. Our ecommerce platforms organize and present voluminous and complex health insurance information in an objective format that empowers individuals, families and small businesses to research, analyze, compare and purchase a wide variety of health insurance plans.

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Elements of our platforms include:

New Customer Center. We launched our Customer Center in September 2020. The Customer Center enables members to create a secure personal profile that stores their prescription drug regimen, preferred doctors and pharmacies, current coverage, and other relevant data and make this data available to the member and our licensed agents that they contact. Our members who enroll by phone can also access this new online experience. After members create a Customer Center account, our technology will import details provided to an agent over telephone to the account. The following are important benefits of our Customer Center:

Empowers Medicare beneficiaries to take control of their personal information – Our Customer Center will put our members in the driver’s seat by helping them track and update the information they will need when it is time to reconsider their coverage options.
Identification of Medicare plan options – With their personal information easily accessible online and to our agents, it is easier for shoppers to find the best plan options for their personal needs and budget and also incentivizes them to return to us when their needs change.
Drives retention through communication – Our Customer Center allows beneficiaries to track the status of their applications over time and connects them with us if they have questions.

Plan Comparisons and RecommendationsWe offer online comparison and recommendation tools that process and simplify voluminous health insurance information according to each consumer's specific insurance need. Our ecommerce platform enables consumers to compare and personalize health insurance options based on plan characteristics such as price, plan type, coverage limits, deductible amount, co-payment amount, and in-network and out-of-network benefits. After entering relevant information on our website, our platforms allow consumers to instantly receive a list of applicable health insurance plans and rate and benefit information in an easy-to-understand format.

Online Application and Enrollment FormsHealth insurance applications vary widely by carrier and state.  Our proprietary application tool allows us to capture each insurance application’s unique business rules and build a corresponding online application. Our online application process offers our consumers significant improvements over the traditional, paper-intensive application process. It employs dynamic business logic to help individuals and families complete the application and enrollment forms correctly in real-time. This reduces delay resulting from application rework, a significant problem with traditional health insurance distribution, where incomplete applications are mailed back and forth between the consumer, the traditional agent and the carrier. We further simplify the enrollment process by accepting electronic signature.

Customer and Carrier Data Interchange. Our digital data interface technology integrates our online application process with health insurance carriers’ technology systems, enabling us to electronically deliver our consumers’ applications to health insurance carriers. Our digital interface technology also expedites the loading of insurance product inventory in to our various shopping experiences and accelerates the application process by eliminating manual delivery. We also receive alerts and data from carriers, such as notification of approval or a request from a carrier for a consumer’s medical records for underwriting purposes, which we then relay electronically to the consumer. These features of our service help prevent applications from becoming delayed or rejected through inactivity of the consumer or the carrier.

Call Center Technology Systems. Our proprietary agent-assist management systems enable us to provide a full range of customer service tasks in an efficient and personalized manner while complying with Medicare and health insurance regulatory requirements. Call center agents have script-on-screen tools that align to health insurance needs and leverage a common back office platform that powers our direct-to-consumer shopping experience. Data science driven algorithms are used to route and match call center agents with the right training and experience to certain consumers. These systems also have customer relationship management tools that can track each consumer throughout the application process, obtain real-time updates from the carrier, generate automated emails specific to each consumer and access a cross-sell engine and dashboard to identify and track cross-sell opportunities. Our auto-
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email system is feature-rich with HTML capability, customizable merge tags, granular segmentation and tracking capability.

Customer Data Platform. We have developed proprietary recommendation algorithms that are carrier agnostic and are designed based on the several million customer assistance encounters we have facilitated.


Carrier Relationships

We have developed strategic relationships with leading health insurance carriers in the United States, enabling us to offer thousands of health insurance plans online.  We have relationships with a large number of Medicare-related, individual and family, small business and ancillary health insurance plan carriers, including large national carriers and well-established regional carriers. Many of these major carriers have been selling their products through us for over ten years. In many cases, we have back-office integration with major carriers allowing us to submit applications efficiently and cost-effectively, which is an area of competitive differentiation for our business. We typically enter into contractual agency relationships with health insurance carriers that are non-exclusive and terminable on short notice by either party for any reason. Health insurance carriers often have the ability to terminate or amend our agreements unilaterally on short notice, including provisions in our agreements relating to our commission rates. 


Marketing

We focus on building brand awareness, increasing Medicare, individual, family and small business customer visits to our websites and telephonic sales centers and converting these visitors into members. Our marketing initiatives are varied and numerous. They include:

Direct Marketing. Our direct member acquisition channel consists of consumers who call our call centers directly or access our website addresses (www.eHealth.com, www.eHealthInsurance.com, www.Medicare.com, www.eHealthMedicare.com, www.PlanPrescriber.com and www.GoMedigap.com) either directly or through algorithmic search listings on Internet search engines and directories. Our direct marketing programs include direct mail, email marketing, search engine optimization, and television, radio and print advertising.

Online Advertising. Our online advertising member acquisition channel consists of consumers who access our website or call centers through paid keyword search advertising from search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, paid social platforms like Facebook, as well as various Internet marketing programs such as display advertising and retargeting campaigns. Our online advertising programs are delivered across all Internet-enabled devices, including desktop computers, tablet computers and smart phones.

Marketing Partners. Our marketing partner member acquisition channel consists of consumers who access our website and call centers through a network comprised of hundreds of partners that drive consumers to our ecommerce platform and call centers. These partners include health care industry participants, such as insurance carriers; affiliate organizations; online advertisers and content providers that are specialists in paid and unpaid (algorithmic) search, as well as specialists in other types of Internet marketing; pharmacies and hospital networks; financial and online services partners in industries such as banking, insurance and mortgage; and off-line lead generators who specialize in traditional direct marketing channels, such as direct mail and television advertising.


Technology and Content

We have a technology and content team that is responsible for ongoing enhancements to the features and functionality of our ecommerce platform, which we believe are critical to maintaining our technology leadership position in the industry. A large number of our technology and content employees are located in our subsidiary in Xiamen, China. There are many risks associated with having an operation and doing business in China. Information
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regarding risks involving our operations in China is included in Part I, Item 1A, Risk Factors, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


Government Regulation and Compliance

We distribute health insurance plans in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia.  The health insurance industry is heavily regulated. Each of these jurisdictions has its own rules and regulations relating to the offer and sale of health insurance plans, typically administered by a department of insurance. State insurance departments have administrative powers relating to, among other things: regulating premium prices; granting and revoking licenses to transact insurance business; approving individuals and entities to which, and circumstances under which, commissions can be paid; regulating advertising, marketing and trade practices; monitoring broker and agent conduct; and imposing continuing education requirements. We are required to maintain valid life and/or health agency and/or agent licenses in each jurisdiction in which we transact health insurance business.

In addition to state regulations, we also are subject to federal laws, regulations and guidelines issued by CMS that place a number of requirements on health insurance carriers and agents and brokers in connection with the marketing and sale of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. We are subject to similar requirements of state insurance departments with respect to our marketing and sale of Medicare Supplement plans. Medicare plans are not generally able to be purchased outside of an annual enrollment period that occurs in the fourth quarter of the year, subject to exception for individuals aging into Medicare eligibility and for individuals who qualify for a special enrollment period as a result of certain qualifying events. In addition, Medicare Advantage plan enrollees may enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan or disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and return to original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period that occurs in the first quarter of the year. CMS and state insurance department regulations and guidelines include a number of prohibitions regarding the ability to contact Medicare-eligible individuals and place many restrictions on the marketing of Medicare-related plans.  For example, our health insurance carrier partners are required to file with CMS and state departments of insurance certain of our websites, our call center scripts and other marketing materials we use to market Medicare-related plans. In some instances, CMS or state departments of insurance must approve the material before we use it. In addition, the laws and regulations applicable to the marketing and sale of Medicare-related plans are ambiguous, complex and, particularly with respect to regulations and guidance issued by CMS for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, change frequently.

In March 2010, the Affordable Care Act and related amendments in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act were signed into law. The Affordable Care Act has primarily impacted our business of selling individual, family, and small business insurance plans. Among several other provisions, these laws and the regulations implementing them included a mandate requiring individuals to maintain health insurance or face tax penalties, which was repealed effective in 2019; a mandate that certain employers offer and contribute to their employees’ group health insurance coverage or face tax penalties if they do not do so; prohibitions against insurance companies using pre-existing health conditions as a reason to deny an application for health insurance; requirements for minimum individual and small business health insurance benefit levels, including prohibitions on lifetime coverage limits and limitations on annual coverage limits; medical loss ratio requirements that require each health insurance carrier to spend a certain percentage of their premium revenue on reimbursement for clinical services and activities that improve health care quality; establishment of state and/or federal health insurance exchanges to facilitate access to, and the purchase of, health insurance; Medicaid expansion so that a greater number of individuals will be insured under Medicaid programs; and subsidies and cost-sharing credits to make health insurance more affordable for those below certain income levels.

The Affordable Care Act also established annual open enrollment periods for the purchase of individual and family health insurance. Individuals and families generally are not able to purchase individual and family health insurance outside of the annual enrollment periods, unless they qualify for a special enrollment period as a result of certain qualifying events, such as losing employer-sponsored health insurance or moving to another state. Moreover, in order to be eligible for a subsidy, qualified individuals must purchase subsidy-qualifying health plans, known as qualified health plans, through a government-run health insurance exchange during the open enrollment period or a
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special enrollment period. While they are not required to do so, government-run exchanges are permitted to allow agents and brokers to enroll individuals and families into qualified health plans through them. The Federally Facilitated Marketplace, or FFM, run by CMS operated some part of the health insurance exchange in 38 states during the last health care open enrollment period. Our enrollment of individuals and families into qualified health plans to date has generally occurred through the FFM.

We are subject to various federal and state privacy and security laws, regulations and requirements. These laws govern our collection, use, disclosure, protection and maintenance of the individually-identifiable information that we collect from consumers.  For example, we are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.  HIPAA and regulations adopted pursuant to HIPPA require us to maintain the privacy of individually-identifiable health information that we collect on behalf of health insurance carriers, implement measures to safeguard such information and provide notification in the event of a breach in the privacy or confidentiality of such information. In addition, we have entered into contracts with health insurance carriers and others regarding the collection, maintenance, protection, use, transmission, disclosure or disposal of sensitive personal information. The use and disclosure of certain data that we collect from consumers is also regulated in some instances by other federal laws, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or GLBA, and state statutes implementing GLBA, which generally require brokers to provide customers with notice regarding how their non-public personal health and financial information is used and the opportunity to “opt out” of certain disclosures before sharing such information with a third party, and which generally require safeguards for the protection of personal information. We regularly assess our compliance with privacy and security requirements. These requirements are evolving, and states are beginning to adopt additional requirements, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect January 1, 2020, which establishes, among other things, new privacy rights for California residents such as the right to know what personal information has been collected about them, how we use and disclose this information and the right to request deletion of that information. In addition to government action, health insurance carrier expectations relating to privacy and security protections are increasing and evolving. We have incurred significant costs to develop new processes and procedures and to adopt new technology in an effort to comply with privacy and security laws and regulations and carrier expectations and to protect against cyber security risks and security breaches. We expect to continue to do so in the future. Violations of federal and state privacy and security laws and other contractual requirements may result in significant liability and expense, damage to our reputation or termination of relationship with government-run health insurance exchanges and our members, marketing partners and health insurance carriers.


Intellectual Property

We rely on a combination of trademark, copyright and trade secret laws in the United States and other jurisdictions, as well as confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions, to protect our proprietary technology and our brand. We also have filed patent applications that relate to certain of our technology and business processes.


Competition

The market for selling health insurance plans is highly competitive. Our competitors include government entities, including government-run health insurance exchanges; health insurance carriers; other health insurance agents and brokers; and companies that use the Internet and other means to attract individuals interested in purchasing health insurance and generate revenue by referring these individuals to us or one of our competitors.

Other agents and brokers. We compete with agents and brokers who offer and sell health insurance plans utilizing traditional offline distribution channels as well as the Internet. Our current competitors include the tens of thousands of local insurance agents across the United States who sell health insurance plans in their communities. A number of these agents operate websites and provide an online shopping experience for consumers interested in purchasing health insurance. In addition, there are a number of direct-to-consumer Medicare platforms that generate demand through a combination of online and traditional marketing channels and fulfill it through their call center operations.
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Government. In connection with our marketing of Medicare related health insurance plans, we compete with the federal government’s original Medicare program. CMS also offers Medicare plan online enrollment, information and comparison tools and has established call centers for the sale of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. CMS has regulatory authority over the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug program and can influence the competitiveness of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans compared to the original Medicare program, as well as the compensation that health insurance carriers are allowed to pay us.

Insurance carriers. Many health insurance carriers directly market and sell their plans to consumers through call centers and their own websites. Although we offer health insurance plans for many of these carriers, they also compete with us by offering their plans directly to consumers and, to a much lesser extent, to small businesses. Health insurance carriers have become more experienced in marketing their products directly to consumers, both over the Internet and through more traditional channels, which has resulted in increased competition.

Internet marketers and other advertisers. There are many internet marketing companies and other advertisers that use the Internet and other means to find consumers interested in purchasing health insurance and are compensated for referring those consumers to agents and health insurance carriers. We compete with these companies for individuals who are looking to purchase health insurance.


Seasonality

The majority of our commission revenue is recognized in the fourth quarter of each calendar year under Accounting Standards Codification, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (ASC 606), which we adopted using the full retrospective transition method on January 1, 2018. We have historically sold a significant portion of Medicare plans for the year in the fourth quarter during the Medicare annual enrollment period, when Medicare-eligible individuals are permitted to change their Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage for the following year. During 2020, 2019, and 2018, 57%, 63%, and 61%, respectively, of our Medicare plan-related applications were submitted during the fourth quarter. As a result, we generate a significant portion of our commission revenues related to new Medicare plan-related enrollments in the fourth quarter.

Beginning January 1, 2019, CMS revived the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period during which Medicare Advantage plan enrollees may enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan or disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and return to original Medicare. The Medicare Advantage open enrollment period is scheduled to occur between January 1 and March 31 of each year. As a result, we expect to generate higher commission revenue in the first quarter compared to the second and third quarters.

The annual open enrollment period for individual and family health insurance also takes place in the fourth quarter of the calendar year, resulting in seasonality of individual and family plan submitted applications volume. During 2020, 2019, and 2018, 56%, 57%, and 64%, respectively, of our individual and family plan-related applications were submitted during the fourth quarter. As a result, we generate a significant portion of our commission revenues related to individual and family plan-related enrollments in the fourth quarter.

Our marketing and advertising expenses are typically lower in each of our first through third quarters compared to the fourth quarter. We incur a significant portion of our marketing and advertising expenses in the fourth quarter as a result of the Medicare annual enrollment period and the open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act. We expect this seasonal trend in marketing and advertising expenses to continue in 2021.

In preparation for the Medicare annual enrollment period during 2020, 2019, and 2018, and to a lesser extent the open enrollment period for individual and family health insurance plans during the same periods, we began increasing our customer care center staff during the third and fourth quarters to handle the anticipated increased volume of health insurance transactions, which resulted in higher customer care and enrollment expenses in the third and fourth quarters. Historically, a significant portion of the seasonal increase in customer care center
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staffing was through the utilization of vendors that employ their own health insurance agents. Going forward, we plan to shift to a predominantly internal agent model and will employ and maintain the majority of our health insurance agent force year-round. We expect to increase our internal agents' utilization outside of the enrollment periods by expanding our offerings of ancillary products and increasing our outbound calling efforts. In addition, we are planning to enhance our new agent onboarding and training program and commence these processes earlier in the second quarter of the year. As a result, we expect to incur increased employee costs beginning earlier in 2021 and reduced outsourced vendor agent costs during the fourth quarter AEP season. We believe the earlier investments in expanding our internal team will enable stronger execution during the fourth quarter AEP season of 2021.


Human Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately 1,960 full-time employees, of which 1,190 were in customer care and enrollment, 410 were in technology and content, 260 were in general and administrative, and 100 were in marketing and advertising. Of the 1,960 full-time employees, 275 were non-US employees based in our China office. None of our U.S. employees are represented by a labor union. As required under Chinese law, the employees in our Xiamen, China office established a labor union in January 2014. We have not experienced any work stoppages and consider our employee relations to be strong.

We value our employees for their critical role in the success of our business. We focus on our culture and maintain a generous benefits package for our employees to attract, motivate, and retain them. Health benefits we offer are extended to all full-time employees. Our employee wellness benefits include mental health and financial well-being benefits, including fertility assistance, a tuition reimbursement program, a student loan repayment program, and financial counseling resources. During 2020, we implemented an employee stock purchase plan for our U.S. employees which enables them to purchase shares of our common stock at a discount from market prices and participate in equity ownership of us. We focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion and they form a part of our culture and values. We recently formed a diversity and inclusion committee to identify ways in which we can further support a culture of acceptance and inclusivity. We have also introduced expanded offerings for virtual employee training to ensure our employees continue to develop their skills while working remotely.


Information Security

We are committed to maintaining information security through responsible management, appropriate use, and protection in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements and our contractual relationships. Information security is an integral part of our business, and we emphasize to every employee that information security is “everyone’s responsibility.” We maintain an office of the chief information security officer, or CISO, focused on information and systems technology and corporate governance to drive a common security framework practice. The office of the CISO concentrates on technology, behaviors and safeguarding information from unauthorized or inappropriate access, use, or disclosure. We utilize various industry recognized information security frameworks, including Health Information Trust Alliance, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, CIS Controls, and CIS Benchmarks.


Climate Change

Though our direct environmental impact is limited, we believe that we all have a role to play in effectively planning for, and mitigating the effects of, climate change. Therefore, we consider climate-related risks when assessing our larger enterprise-level risks. We also consider how we can build upon our business model to reduce environmental impacts, such as those associated with the use of paper for processing insurance applications. Through the use of our online platforms, we have transformed a paper intensive health insurance application process into an easy to use digital experience. As we continue to grow, we plan to select and design our offices in a manner that promotes the health, well-being, and productivity of our workforce and consider the environmental impacts of our facilities. For example, our Santa Clara office is located in a high performance building and adheres to a number of sustainability requirements under local and California state guidance. We have extended our data tracking
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mechanisms to better understand our organizational footprint and to identify ways to further mitigate our impact on the environment, including increasing the automation of our procurement activities.


ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS

In addition to other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the following risk factors should be carefully considered in evaluating our business as they may have a significant impact on our business, operating results and financial condition. If any of the following risks actually occurs, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future prospects could be materially and adversely affected. Because of the following factors, as well as other variables affecting our operating results, past financial performance should not be considered as a reliable indicator of future performance and investors should not use historical trends to anticipate results or trends in future periods. 


Risks Related to Our Business
If our ability to enroll individuals during enrollment periods is impeded or if investments we make in enrollment periods do not result in the returns we expected when making those investments, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed.

In an attempt to attract and enroll a large number of individuals during the Medicare annual enrollment period and to a lesser extent, the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period and the health care reform open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, we may invest in areas of our business, including technology and content, customer care and enrollment, and marketing and advertising. We have in the past made investments in areas of our business in advance of enrollment periods that have not yielded the results we expected when making those investments. Any investment we make in any enrollment period may not result in a significant number of approved and paying members or may not be as cost-effective as we anticipated. If it does not, or is not, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed. If our ability to market and sell Medicare-related health insurance and individual and family health insurance is constrained during an enrollment period for any reason, such as technology failures, interruptions in the operation of our e-commerce or telephony platforms, reduced allocation of resources, any inability to timely employ, license, train, certify and retain our employees and our outsourced call centers and their health insurance agents to sell health insurance, we could acquire fewer members, suffer a reduction in our membership, and our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.
We may be unsuccessful in competing effectively against current and future competitors, including government-run health insurance exchanges.

The market for selling health insurance plans is highly competitive. We compete with government-run health insurance exchanges, among others, with respect to our sale of Medicare-related and individual and family health insurance. The federal government operates a website where Medicare beneficiaries can purchase Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans or be referred to carriers to purchase Medicare Supplement plans. We also compete with the original Medicare program. The Affordable Care Act exchanges have websites where individuals and small businesses can purchase health insurance, and they also have offline customer support and enrollment capabilities. Our competitors also include local insurance agents across the United States who sell health insurance plans in their communities, companies that advertise primarily through television, and companies that operate websites that provide quote information or the opportunity to purchase health insurance online, including lead aggregator services. Many health insurance carriers also directly market and sell their plans to consumers through call centers, Internet advertising and their own websites. Although we offer health insurance plans for many of these carriers, they also compete with us by offering their plans directly to consumers.

To remain competitive against our current and future competitors, we will need to market our services effectively and continue to improve the online shopping experience and functionalities of our website and other
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platforms that our current and future customers may access to purchase health insurance products from us. If we cannot predict, develop and deliver the right shopping experience and functionality in a timely and cost-effective manner, or if we are not effective in cost-effectively driving a substantial number of consumers interested in purchasing health insurance to our website and customer care centers, we may not be able to compete successfully against our current or future competitors and our business, operating results and financial condition may be adversely affected.

Some of our current and potential competitors have longer operating histories, larger customer bases, greater brand recognition and significantly greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we do. As compared to us, our current and future competitors may be able to undertake more extensive marketing campaigns for their brands and services, devote more resources to website and systems development, negotiate more favorable commission rates and commission override payments, and make more attractive offers to potential employees, marketing partners and third-party service providers. 

Competitive pressures from government-run health insurance exchanges and other competitors may result in our experiencing increased marketing costs, decreased demand and loss of market share, increased health insurance plan termination, reduction in our membership or revenue and may otherwise harm our business, operating results and financial condition.
Our business may be harmed if we lose our relationship with health insurance carriers or our relationship with health insurance carriers is modified.

We typically enter into contractual relationships with health insurance carriers that are non-exclusive and terminable on short notice by either party for any reason. In many cases, health insurance carriers also may amend the terms of our agreements unilaterally, including commission rates, on short notice. Carriers may be unwilling to allow us to sell their existing or new health insurance plans, or desire to amend our agreements with them for a variety of reasons, including for competitive or regulatory reasons, dissatisfaction with the economics of the members that we place with them or because they do not want to be associated with our brand. The termination of our relationship with a health insurance carrier, the reduction of commission rates, or the amendment of or change in our relationship with a carrier could reduce the variety, quality and affordability of health insurance plans we offer, cause a loss of commission payments, including commissions for past and/or future sales, cause a reduction in the estimated constrained LTVs, we use for revenue recognition purposes, result in a loss of existing and potential members, adversely impact our profitability or have other adverse impacts, which could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Health insurance carriers can unilaterally amend the commission rates that they pay to us. For example, given the significant losses that carriers sustained in connection with their sale of individual and family health insurance as a result of health care reform, many health insurance carriers with which we have a relationship, including large national health insurance carriers, reduced or eliminated our commissions for selling individual and family health insurance, and in a limited number of cases, our renewal commissions. As a result, we experienced a meaningful reduction in our average commission rates for our aggregate individual and family health insurance plan membership. In addition, the reduction in contractual commission rates and these carriers’ desire to not sell individual and family health insurance reduced the number of plans that we are able to offer on our websites, which resulted in less consumer demand for the individual and family health insurance that we sell and a reduction in our membership. In the future, health insurance carriers may decide to reduce our commissions, rely on their own internal distribution channels to sell their own plans, determine not to sell their plans or otherwise limit or prohibit us from selling their plans. In addition to reducing commission rates, health insurance carriers may determine to exit certain states or increase premiums to a significant degree, which could cause our members’ health insurance to be terminated or our members to purchase new health insurance or determine not to pay for health insurance at all. If we lose these members, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.

Our Medicare plan-related revenue is concentrated in a small number of health insurance carriers. The success of our Medicare-related health insurance business depends upon our ability to enter into new and maintain existing relationships with health insurance carriers on favorable economic terms. We expect that a small number of
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health insurance carriers will account for a significant portion of our revenue for the foreseeable future and any impairment of our relationship with, or the material financial impairment of, these health insurance carriers could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.

We may also temporarily or permanently lose the ability to market and sell Medicare plans for one or more of our Medicare plan carriers. The regulations applicable to the business of selling Medicare-related health insurance are complex and frequently change. If we or our health insurance agents violate any of the requirements imposed by CMS, state laws or regulations, a health insurance carrier may terminate our relationship or CMS may penalize a health insurance carrier by suspending or terminating the carrier's ability to market and sell Medicare plans. Given the concentration of our Medicare plan sales in a small number of carriers, if we lose a relationship with a health insurance carrier to market their Medicare plans, even temporarily, or if the health insurance carrier loses its Medicare product membership, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed.
Our financial results will be adversely impacted if our membership does not grow or if we are not able to successfully retain our existing members and limit health insurance plan termination.

We receive commissions from health insurance carriers for health insurance plans sold through us. When one of these plans is canceled, or if we otherwise do not remain the agent on the plan, we no longer receive the related commission payment. Our members and/or health insurance carriers may choose to discontinue their health insurance plans for a variety of reasons. Consumers may also purchase individual and family and Medicare-related health insurance plans directly from other sources, such as our competitors, and we would not remain the agent on the policy and receive the related commission. Medicare Advantage plan and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan enrollees may select another plan during the Medicare annual enrollment period that occurs in the fourth quarter every year. Medicare Advantage plan enrollees may also select another plan during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period that occurs in the first quarter of the year. In addition, certain individuals are permitted to enroll, disenroll or change their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription drug plans during special enrollment periods. We experienced an increased attrition rate in our Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plan membership in 2020 above historical levels prior to that time. While we have implemented measures to improve the attrition rate, if our Medicare Advantage and other health insurance plan termination rates do not decline in subsequent quarters, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed. In addition, enrollment periods could cause us to further experience increased termination rates in the future, which could adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.

Any decrease in the amount of time we retain our members on the health insurance plans that they purchased through us could adversely impact the estimated constrained LTVs we use for purposes of recognizing revenue, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. For example, our Medicare Advantage plan and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan LTVs have been negatively impacted by increased plan termination rates. While we have recently placed a stronger operational focus on member retention, there are no assurances that investments we make to pursue retention initiatives will result in a decline in health insurance plan termination rate and/or improvement in our constrained LTVs in the future. If we are not able to successfully retain our existing members and limit health insurance plan termination, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed. If we experience higher health insurance plan termination rates than we estimated when we recognized commission revenue, we may not collect all of the related commissions receivable, which could result in a reduction in LTV and a write-off of contract assets - commissions receivable, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

In addition, the growth of our membership is highly dependent upon our success in attracting new members during the Medicare annual enrollment period and to a lesser extent, the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period and the health care reform open enrollment period. The Medicare-related commission rates that we receive may be higher in the first calendar year of a plan if the plan is the first Medicare-related plan issued to the member. Similarly, the individual and family plan commission rates that we receive are typically higher in the first twelve months of a policy. After the first twelve months, the commission rates generally decline significantly. As a result, if we do not add a sufficient number of members to new plans, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed.

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If we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our business and operating results will be harmed.

We believe that maintaining and enhancing our brand identity is critical to our relationships with existing members, marketing partners and health insurance carriers and to our ability to attract new members, marketing partners and health insurance carriers. The promotion of our brand in these and other ways may require us to make substantial investments and we anticipate that, as our market becomes increasingly competitive, these branding initiatives may become increasingly difficult and expensive. Our brand promotion activities may not be successful or yield increased revenue, and to the extent that these activities yield increased revenue, the increased revenue may not offset the expenses we incur and our operating results could be harmed. If we do not successfully maintain and enhance our brand, our business may not grow and we could lose our relationships with health insurance carriers, marketing partners and/or members, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and public health crises, illness, epidemics or pandemics could adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.

COVID-19 and public health crises, illness, epidemics or pandemics, in general, and any associated disruption to our call center and service operations, in particular, could materially impact our business, operations and financial condition. In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and to comply with applicable government directives, we generally have directed employees to work from home and implemented new business protocols for employees who have resumed work in our offices. A potential COVID-19 infection of any of our employees could adversely impact our operations, including resulting in the sudden closure of any of our offices. Our business operations may be disrupted if key personnel or significant portions of our employees are unable to work effectively, especially if such disruption occurs during or in our preparation for the Medicare annual enrollment period. We have had to adjust our business operations, including onboarding and training new health insurance agents remotely and asking employees to work from home, which could cause operational difficulties, reduce the effectiveness of our agents in selling health insurance and impair our ability to manage our business. An increased number of employees in a remote work environment may exacerbate certain risks to our business, including an increased demand for information technology resources, increased risk of phishing and other cybersecurity attacks, and increased risk of unauthorized dissemination of sensitive personal information or proprietary or confidential information about us or our customers or other third-parties. Our business operations and recruitment efforts could be impacted if government offices, including CMS and state departments of insurance, are adversely impacted by COVID-19 given that some of our marketing materials require CMS approval and health insurance agent licensing and licensing renewals are dependent on state department of insurance processing. Our product development initiatives could also be negatively impacted by extended office closures. Furthermore, if any of our health insurance carriers, business partners or vendors increase the prices of or become unable to continue to provide their products or services as a result of COVID-19, or if health insurance carriers reduce our commission rates or the amount they pay us, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed. The impact of COVID-19 to our Individual, Family and Small Business segment is especially uncertain because of increases in unemployment rate, potential delays in customer premium payments and/or health insurance carrier commission payments, potential changes to the open enrollment period, and potential changes to qualified health plans subsidies, among others. COVID-19 presents uncertainties and risks with respect to the demand for and pricing of health insurance plans, which could negatively impact our business, operating results and financial condition. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted.

Changes in our management and key employees could affect our business and financial results.

Our success is dependent upon our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel for all areas of our organization. We may not be successful in attracting and retaining personnel on a timely basis, on competitive terms or at all. If we are unable to attract and retain the necessary personnel, our business would be harmed. Our executive officers and employees can terminate their employment at any time. The transition and the departure of members of our senior management could result in attrition in our senior management and key personnel and any significant change in leadership over a short period of time could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

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The loss of the services of any of our executive officers or key employees could harm our business. For example, we are required to appoint a single designated writing agent with each insurance carrier. A small number of our employees act as writing agent and each employee that acts as writing agent does so for a number of carriers. When an employee that acts as writing agent terminates their employment with us, we need to replace such writing agent with another employee who has health insurance licenses. Due to our national reach and the large number of carriers whose plans are purchased by our members, the process of changing writing agents has in the past taken and could take a significant period of time to complete. If the transition is not successful, our ability to sell health insurance plans may be interrupted, our agency relationship with particular insurance carriers may be terminated, our commission payments could be discontinued or delayed and, as a result, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed.
Our business may be harmed if we are not successful in executing on our strategic investments and initiatives, including our growth strategy and retention initiatives.

As part of our strategy, we have determined to invest in initiatives to accelerate growth in our Medicare product sales, to enhance post-enrollment consumer engagement and increase customer retention, to increase online enrollment and enhance operating leverage, to expand our strategic partner relationships, improve our technology platform to optimize the consumer experience and relationship, and to utilize data analytics to increase the productivity of our customer care employees. Pursuing and investing in these and other initiatives we develop will require significant investments in marketing and advertising, technology and product offerings, and customer care and enrollment, among others, and involves risks and uncertainties described elsewhere in this Risk Factors section, including the initiatives not achieving our retention, growth or profitability targets, inadequate return of capital on our investments, legal and regulatory compliance risks, potential changes in laws and regulations and other issues that could cause us to fail to realize the anticipated benefits of our investments and incur unanticipated liabilities. Our pursuit of these strategic initiatives may not be successful. Our cash flow from operations is expected to be negative in the year ending December 31, 2021 and was negative in each of the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018. If we are not successful in executing on our business strategy, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed.
Seasonality may cause fluctuations in our financial results.

Open enrollment periods drive the seasonality of our business. The Medicare annual enrollment period occurs from October 15 to December 7 each year and the individual and family health insurance open enrollment period typically runs from November 1 through December 15 each year. In addition, the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period, where Medicare-eligible individuals who enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can switch to the original Medicare program or switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, runs from January 1st through March 31st of each year. We experience an increase in the number of submitted Medicare-related applications and approved members during the fourth quarter and, to a lesser extent, in the first quarter, and an increase in Medicare plan related expense during the third and fourth quarters in connection with the open enrollment periods. In addition, we typically experience the highest plan termination rates from our Medicare Advantage plan members in the first year following the effective date of plan enrollment. If we experience significant growth in Medicare Advantage approved members resulting in an increased number of first year members as a percentage of our total estimated membership, we may also experience increased health insurance plan terminations in the year following such periods of growth.

The seasonality of our business could change in the future due to other factors, including as a result of changes in timing of the Medicare or individual and family health plan enrollment periods, adoption of new enrollment periods such as the COVID-related special enrollment period that was adopted in the second quarter of 2020, and changes in the laws and regulations that govern the sale of health insurance. We may not be able to timely adjust to changes in customer demand and the seasonality of our business. If we are not successful in responding to changes in the seasonality of our business, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.

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The success of our customer care center operations depends upon our ability to timely hire, train, retain and ensure the productivity of our licensed health insurance agents.

In addition to our websites, we rely upon our customer care centers and, during the Medicare annual enrollment period, outsourced call centers to sell Medicare plans. The success of our customer care center operations is largely dependent on licensed health insurance agents and other employees. In order to sell Medicare-related health insurance plans, our health insurance agent employees and employees of outsourced call centers must be licensed by the states in which they are selling plans and certified and appointed with the health insurance carrier that offers the plans in each applicable state. Because a significant number of Medicare plans are sold in the fourth quarter each year during the Medicare annual enrollment period, we contract with outsourced call centers and hire additional employees on a temporary or seasonal basis in a limited period of time to address the expected increase in the volume of health insurance transactions during this period. We depend upon our employees, state departments of insurance, government exchanges and health insurance carriers for the licensing, certification and appointment of our health insurance agents. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting containment measures have negatively impacted the capacity of health insurance license testing facilities and have caused delays in the completion of background checks and fingerprinting requirements. As a result, these health insurance agents may experience delays in obtaining health insurance licenses and certifications and health insurance carrier appointments. We and our outsourced call centers may experience difficulties hiring a sufficient number of additional licensed agents and retaining existing licensed agents for the Medicare annual enrollment period. If we and our outsourced call centers are not successful in these regards, our ability to sell Medicare-related health insurance plans will be impaired during the Medicare annual enrollment period, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Even if we or our outsourced call centers are successful in hiring licensed health insurance agents, our success depends on the productivity of these health insurance agents. Health insurance agents may not perform to the standard we expect of them, which could result in lower than expected conversion rates and revenue, higher costs of acquisition per member and higher plan termination rates. We have observed that our health insurance agent employees are more productive than the employees of our outsourced call centers and that experienced health insurance agents are more productive than less-tenured health insurance agents. As a result, the success of our business depends upon our ability to retain existing health insurance agents and hiring and training a sufficient number of internal health insurance agent employees who can perform to the standard we expect of them. Failure to retain, train and ensure the productivity of our health insurance agent employees and employees of outsourced call centers would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

During the 2020 annual enrollment period, we experienced reduced conversion rates from health insurance agents that work at an outsourced call center, which impacted our revenue and cost of acquisition during the fourth quarter of 2020. As a result, we have determined to increase the number of our health insurance agent employees to a much more significant degree than we have in the past. Our ability to do so successfully will depend on the success of our recruiting efforts and our ability to train, license and appoint with carriers the newly employed agents so that they are effective in selling plans in time for the Medicare annual enrollment period occurring in 2021. If we are not successful in these efforts, we may need to rely more than we have planned on outsourced health insurance agents or rely on a fewer number of employed agents, which could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

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If we are not successful in cost-effectively converting visitors to our website and customers who call into our call centers into members for whom we receive commissions, our business and operating results would be harmed. 

Our growth depends in large part upon growth in approved members in a given period. The rate at which consumers visiting our ecommerce platforms and customer care centers seeking to purchase health insurance are converted into approved members directly impacts our revenue. In addition, the rate at which consumers who are approved become paying members impacts the constrained LTV of our approved members, which impacts the revenue that we are able to recognize. A number of factors have influenced, and could in the future influence, these conversion rates for any given period, some of which are outside of our control. These factors include, but are not limited to:

changes in consumer shopping behavior due to circumstances outside of our control, such as economic conditions, the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers’ ability or willingness to pay for health insurance, adverse weather conditions or natural disasters, availability of unemployment benefits or proposed or enacted legislative or regulatory changes impacting our business, including health care reform;
the quality of and changes to the consumer experience on our ecommerce platforms or with our customer care centers;
regulatory requirements, including those that make the experience on our ecommerce platforms cumbersome or difficult to navigate or reduce the ability of consumers to purchase plans outside of enrollment periods;
the variety, competitiveness and affordability of the health insurance plans that we offer;
system failures or interruptions in the operation of our ecommerce platform or call center operations;
changes in the mix of consumers who are referred to us through our direct, marketing partner and online advertising member acquisition channels;
health insurance carriers offering the health insurance plans for which consumers have expressed interest, and the degree to which our technology is integrated with those carriers;
health insurance carrier guidelines applicable to applications submitted by consumers, the amount of time a carrier takes to make a decision on that application and the percentage of submitted applications approved by health insurance carriers;
the effectiveness of health insurance agents in assisting consumers, including the tenure of the health insurance agent and whether the health insurance agent is an employee or works with an outsourced call center with which we have a relationship; and
our ability to enroll subsidy-eligible individuals in qualified health plans through government-run health insurance exchanges and the efficacy of the process we are required to use to do so.

Our conversion rates can be impacted by changes in the mix of consumers referred to us through our member acquisition channels and whether they interact with a more seasoned health insurance agent or a health insurance agent that works with an outsourced call center. We may make changes to our ecommerce platforms in response to regulatory requirements or undertake other initiatives in an attempt to improve consumer experience or for other reasons. These changes have in the past, and may in the future have the unintended consequence of adversely impacting our conversion rates. A decline in the percentage of consumers who submit health insurance applications on our ecommerce platforms or telephonically via our customer care centers and are converted into approved and paying members could cause an increase in our cost of acquiring members on a per member basis and impact our revenue in any given period. To the extent the rate at which we convert consumers visiting our ecommerce platforms or telephonically via our customer care centers into members suffers, our membership may decline, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

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We depend upon Internet search engines and social media platforms to attract a significant portion of the consumers who visit our website, and if we are unable to effectively advertise on search engines or social media platforms on a cost-effective basis, our business and operating results would be harmed.

We derive a significant portion of our website traffic from consumers who search for health insurance through Internet search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, and through social media platforms, such as Facebook. A critical factor in attracting consumers to our website is whether we are prominently displayed in response to an Internet search relating to health insurance or on a social media platform. Search engines typically provide two types of search results, algorithmic listings and paid advertisements. We rely on both to attract consumers to our websites and otherwise generate demand for our services.

Algorithmic search result listings are determined and displayed in accordance with a set of formulas or algorithms developed by the particular Internet search engine. The algorithms determine the order of the listing of results in response to the consumer’s Internet search. From time to time, search engines revise these algorithms. In some instances, these modifications have caused our website to be listed less prominently in algorithmic search results, which has resulted in decreased traffic to our website. We may also be listed less prominently as a result of other factors, such as new websites, changes we make to our website or technical issues with the search engine itself. For example, government health insurance exchange websites appear prominently in algorithmic search results. In addition, search engines have deemed the practices of some companies to be inconsistent with search engine guidelines and decided not to list their website in search result listings at all. If we are listed less prominently in, or removed altogether from, search result listings for any reason, the traffic to our websites would decline and we may not be able to replace this traffic, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. If we decide to attempt to replace this traffic, we may be required to increase our marketing expenditures, which would also increase our cost of member acquisition and harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

We purchase paid advertisements on search engines and social media platforms in order to attract consumers to our platforms. We typically pay a search engine for prominent placement of our website when particular health insurance-related terms are searched for on the search engine, regardless of the algorithmic search result listings. The prominence of the placement of our advertisement is determined by a combination of factors, including the amount we are willing to pay and algorithms designed to determine the relevance of our paid advertisement to a particular search term. As with algorithmic search result listings, search engines may revise the algorithms relevant to paid advertisements, and websites other than our ecommerce platform may become more optimized for the algorithms. These changes may result in our having to pay increased amounts to maintain our paid advertisement placement in response to a particular search term. We could also have to pay increased amounts should the market share of major search engines continue to become more concentrated with a single search engine. Additionally, we bid against our competitors, insurance carriers, government health insurance exchanges and others for the display of these paid search engine or social media platform advertisements. We have experienced increased competition for both algorithmic search result listings and for paid advertisements, which competition increases substantially during the enrollment periods for Medicare related health insurance and for individual and family health insurance. The competition has increased the cost of paid internet search advertising and has increased our marketing and advertising expenses. If paid search advertising costs increase or become cost prohibitive, whether as a results of competition, algorithm changes or otherwise our advertising expenses could rise significantly or we could reduce or discontinue our paid search advertisements, either of which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

We rely significantly on marketing partners and our business and operating results would be harmed if we are unable to maintain effective relationships with our existing marketing partners or if we do not establish successful relationships with new marketing partners.

We frequently enter into contractual marketing relationships with partners that drive consumers to our ecommerce platform and call centers. These marketing partners include financial and online services companies, affiliate organizations, online advertisers and content providers, and other marketing vendors. We also have relationships with strategic marketing partners, including hospitals and pharmacy chains that promote our Medicare platforms to their customers as well as pharmacy service providers and other affinity groups. We compensate many of our marketing partners for their referrals on a submitted health insurance application basis and, if they are
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licensed to sell health insurance, may share a percentage of the commission we earn from the health insurance carrier for each member referred by the marketing partner. The success of our relationship is dependent on a number of factors, including but not limited to the continued positive market presence, reputation and growth of the marketing partner, the effectiveness of the marketing partner in marketing our website and services, the compliance of each marketing partner with applicable laws, regulations and guidelines, and the contractual terms we negotiate with our marketing partners, including the marketing fees we agree to pay.

While we have relationships with a large number of marketing partners, we depend upon referrals from a limited number of marketing partners for a significant portion of the submitted applications we receive from our marketing partner customer acquisition channel. Given our reliance on our marketing partners, our business operating results and financial condition would be harmed if we are unable to maintain successful relationships with these companies, if we fail to establish successful relationships with new marketing partners, if we experience competition in our receipt of referrals from high volume marketing partners, and if we are required to pay increased amounts to our marketing partners.

Competition for referrals from our marketing partners has increased particularly during the enrollment periods for Medicare-related health insurance and individual and family health insurance. We may lose marketing partner referrals if our competitors pay marketing partners more than we do or be forced to pay increased fees to our marketing partners, which could harm our business, operating results and financial condition. If we lose marketing partner referrals during the Medicare or individual and family health insurance enrollment periods, the adverse impact on our business would be particularly pronounced. In addition, the promulgation of laws, regulations or guidelines, or the interpretation of existing laws, regulations and guidelines, by state departments of insurance or by CMS, could cause our relationships with our marketing partners to be in non-compliance with those laws, regulations and guidelines. We also have relationships with hospital systems and pharmacy chains that utilize aspects of our platform and tools. Our relationships with these hospital systems and pharmacy chains result in the referral of a significant number of individuals to us who are interested in purchasing Medicare-related health insurance plans. If CMS or state departments of insurance were to change existing laws, regulations or guidelines, or interpret existing laws, regulations or guidelines, to prohibit these arrangements, or if hospital systems or pharmacy partners otherwise decided to no longer utilize aspects of our platform and tools, we could experience a significant decline in the number of Medicare-eligible individuals who are referred to our platforms and customer care centers, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our future operating results are likely to fluctuate and could fall short of expectations. 

Our operating results are likely to fluctuate as a result of a variety of factors, including the factors described elsewhere in this Risk Factors section, many of which are outside of our control. For example and among these factors, the assumptions underlying our estimates of commission revenue as required by ASC 606 may vary significantly over time. As a result, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful and you should not rely on our past results as an indication of our future performance, particularly in light of the fact that our business and industry are undergoing substantial change as a result of health care reform, competition and initiatives we determined to pursue. If our revenue or operating results differ from our guidance or fall below the expectations of investors or securities analysts, the price of our common stock could decline substantially. In the past, when our revenue and operating results differed from our guidance and the expectations of investors or securities analysts, the price of our common stock was impacted.

If commission reports we receive from carriers are inaccurate or not sent to us in a timely manner, our business and operating results could be harmed and we may not recognize trends in our membership. 

We rely on health insurance carriers to timely and accurately report the amount of commissions earned by us, and we calculate our commission revenue, prepare our financial reports, projections and budgets and direct our marketing and other operating efforts based on the reports we receive from health insurance carriers. There have been instances where we have determined that plan cancellation data reported to us by a health insurance carrier has not been accurate. The extent to which health insurance carriers are inaccurate in their reporting of plan cancellations could cause us to change our cancellation estimates, which could adversely impact our revenue. We
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have designed controls to assess the completeness and accuracy of the data received, whereby we apply judgment and make estimates based on historical data and current trends to independently determine whether or not carriers are accurately reporting commissions due to us. We also operate procedures with carriers on an ongoing basis whereby potential under or over reporting is reconciled and discrepancies are resolved. For instance, we reconcile information health insurance carriers provide to us and may determine that we were not historically paid commissions owed to us, which would cause us to have underestimated our membership. Conversely, health insurance carriers may require us to return commission payments paid in a prior period due to plan cancellations for members we previously estimated as being active. To the extent that health insurance carriers understate or fail to accurately report the amount of commissions due to us in a timely manner or at all, our estimates of constrained LTV may be adversely impacted, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. In addition, any inaccuracies in the reports would adversely impact our commission revenue for future periods which is based on historical trends, including trends relating to contracted commission rates and expected health insurance plan cancellation.

We do not receive information about membership cancellations from our health insurance carriers directly, which makes it difficult for us to determine the impact of current conditions on our membership retention and to accurately estimate membership as of a specific date.

We depend on health insurance carriers and others for data related to our membership. For instance, with respect to health insurance plans other than small business health insurance, health insurance carriers do not directly report member cancellations to us, resulting in the need for us to determine cancellations using payment data that carriers provide. We infer cancellations from this payment data by analyzing whether payments from members have ceased for a period of time, and we may not learn of a cancellation for several months. The majority of our members who terminate their plans do so by discontinuing their insurance premium payments to the health insurance carrier and do not inform us of the cancellation. With respect to our small business membership, many groups notify the carrier directly with respect to increases or decreases in group size and policy cancellations. Our insurance carrier partners often do not communicate this information to us, and it often takes a significant amount of time for us to learn about small business group cancellations and changes in our membership within the group itself. We often are not made aware of policy cancellations until the time of the group’s annual renewal.

Given the number of months required to observe non-payment of commissions in order to confirm cancellations, we estimate the number of members who are active on health insurance plans as of a specified date. After we have estimated membership for a period, we may receive information from health insurance carriers that would have impacted the estimate if we had received the information prior to the date of estimation. We may receive commission payments or other information that indicates that a member who was not included in our estimates for a prior period was in fact an active member at that time, or that a member who was included in our estimates was in fact not an active member of ours. As a result of the Medicare annual enrollment and other open enrollment periods, we may not receive information from our carriers on as timely a basis due to the significant increase in health insurance transaction volume, which could impair the accuracy of our membership estimates. For these and other reasons, including if current trends in membership cancellation are inconsistent with past cancellation trends that we use to estimate our membership or if carriers subsequently report changes to the commission payments that they previously reported to us, our actual membership could be different from our estimates, perhaps materially. If our actual membership is different from our estimates, the constrained LTV component of our revenue recognition could also be inaccurate, including as a result of an inaccurate estimate of the average amount of time our members maintain their health insurance plans. As a result of the delay we experience in receiving information about our membership, it is difficult for us to determine with any certainty the impact of current conditions on our membership retention. For example, our estimated membership reported as of March 31, 2020 was higher than our actual membership, because we experienced increased membership cancellation compared to the historical cancellation rates we used to estimate our membership as of March 31, 2020. We were not able to observe the increased membership cancellations that occurred during the first quarter of 2020 until after we reported our estimated membership for the period. Various circumstances, including market-related factors such as changes in timing of enrollment periods and other factors specific to our business, could cause the assumptions and estimates that we make in connection with estimating our membership and constrained LTV to be inaccurate, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

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Our carrier advertising and sponsorship business may not be successful.

We develop, host and maintain carrier dedicated Medicare plan websites and may undertake other marketing and advertising initiatives through our Medicare plan advertising program. We also allow health insurance carriers to purchase advertising space for non-Medicare products on our website through our sponsorship program. To the extent that economic conditions, health care reform or other factors impact the amount health insurance carriers are willing to pay for advertising, our advertising and sponsorship program will be adversely impacted. In addition, since we maintain relationships with a limited number of health insurance carriers to sell their Medicare plans, our Medicare plan-related advertising revenue is concentrated in a small number of health insurance carriers and our ability to generate Medicare plan-related advertising revenue would be harmed by the termination or non-renewal of any of these relationships as well as by a reduction in the amount a health insurance carrier is willing to pay for these services. Moreover, in light of the regulations applicable to the marketing and sale of Medicare plans, and given that these regulations are often unclear, change frequently and are subject to changing interpretations, we may in the future not be permitted to sell Medicare plan-related advertising. If we are not successful in generating Medicare plan-related advertising revenue, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.

The success of our sponsorship and advertising program depends on a number of factors, including the amount health insurance carriers are willing to pay for advertising, the effectiveness of the sponsorship and advertising program as a cost-effective method for carriers to obtain additional members, consumer demand for the health insurance carrier’s product, our ability to attract consumers to our ecommerce platform or the dedicated Medicare plan websites and convert those consumers into members, and the cost, benefit and brand recognition of the health insurance plan that is the subject of the advertising, among others.
Our business may be harmed if we do not enroll subsidy-eligible individuals through government-run health insurance exchanges efficiently.

In order to offer the qualified health plans that individuals and families must purchase to receive Affordable Care Act subsidies, agents and brokers must meet certain conditions, such as receiving permission to do so from the applicable government health insurance exchange, entering into an agreement with the health insurance exchange or a partner of the exchange, ensuring that the enrollment and subsidy application is completed through the health insurance exchange and complying with privacy, security and other standards. In the event Internet-based agents and brokers such as us use the Internet for completion of qualified health plan selection purposes, their websites are required to meet certain additional requirements. To the extent we enroll individuals and families into qualified health plans, we do so through the FFM, which runs all or part of the health insurance exchange in 36 states. We may experience difficulty in satisfying the conditions and requirements to offer qualified health plans to our existing members and new potential members, and in getting them enrolled through the FFM. If we are not able to satisfy these conditions and requirements, or if we are not able to successfully adopt and maintain solutions that allow us to enroll large numbers of individuals and families in qualified plans over the Internet both during and outside of open enrollment periods, we will lose existing members and new members, and may incur additional expense, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. Beginning in the open enrollment period that occurred in the fourth quarter of 2018, CMS adopted a new enhanced direct enrollment pathway for CMS-approved partners to enroll individuals into qualified health plans and complete all steps in the eligibility and enrollment process on a single website. Before enhanced direct enrollment partners are approved, extensive security and privacy reviews are conducted by an independent third-party auditor and CMS reviews the audit results to ensure the entity satisfies numerous additional privacy and security standards. We entered into an agreement to outsource certain aspects of the enrollment process for qualified health plans to a third party in light of the expense and burden associated with the additional requirements. However, if we do not develop the ability to satisfy the requirements to use the improved qualified health plan enrollment process in the future, or if we are unsuccessful in entering into or maintaining a relationship with a third party who is approved to use the process, we may not be able to enroll individuals into qualified health plans through the FFM or could be required to use an inferior process to do so, which could cause a reduction in our individual and family health insurance plan membership and commission revenue. In addition, if we are not able to adopt or contract with and maintain solutions to integrate with government-run health insurance exchanges or if the health insurance exchange websites and other processes are unstable or not consumer friendly, efficient and compatible with the process we have adopted for enrolling
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individuals and families into qualified health plans through the exchanges, we would not be successful in retaining and acquiring members, and our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed. The FFM may at any time cease allowing us to enroll individuals in qualified health plans or change the requirements for doing so. If it does so or if the FFM platform does not function properly, our ability to retain existing members and add new members could be negatively impacted, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

There are many risks associated with our operations in China.

A portion of our operations is conducted by our subsidiary in China. Among other things, we use employees in China to maintain and update our ecommerce platform and perform certain tasks within our finance and customer care and enrollment functions. We rely on the Internet to communicate with our subsidiary in China. Our business would be harmed if our ability to communicate over the Internet with these employees failed, and we were prevented from promptly updating our software or implementing other changes to our database and systems, among other things. From time-to-time we receive inquiries from health insurance carriers relating to our operations in China and the security measures we have implemented to protect data that our employees in China may be able to access. As a part of these inquiries, we have implemented additional security measures relating to our operations in China. We may be required to implement further security measures to continue aspects of our operations in China or health insurance carriers may require us to bring aspects of our operations in China back to the United States, which could be time consuming and expensive and harm our operating results and financial condition. Health insurance carriers may also terminate our relationship due to concerns surrounding protection of data that our employees in China are able to access, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our operations in China also expose us to different and unfamiliar laws, rules and regulations, including different intellectual property laws, which are not as protective of our intellectual property as the laws in the United States. United States and Chinese trade laws may also impose restrictions on the importation of programming or technology to or from the United States. We are also subject to anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws, privacy and data security laws, labor laws, tax laws, foreign exchange controls and cash repatriation restrictions in China. On June 1, 2017, a national cybersecurity law came into effect in China. The law, along with its implementation regulations, applies to the establishment, operation, maintenance and usage of networks within China and the supervision and management of cybersecurity. Under the law, network operators are required to comply with certain tiered security obligations based on the networks’ relative impact on national security, social order, public interest and individuals’ privacy rights. There remains considerable uncertainty as to how the cybersecurity law will be applied, and the regulatory environment continues to evolve with new draft regulations and standards published frequently. Such laws, regulations and standards are complex, ambiguous and subject to change or interpretation, which create uncertainty regarding compliance. Pursuant to the draft regulations, we may be required to perform self-assessments, obtain third party certifications, report cybersecurity incidents and make filings with public security authorities. We could also be subject to security inspections and evaluations by public security authorities and be restricted to use only network products and services that meet certain standards based on the level of risk applicable to us. Compliance with these laws and regulations could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business operations in China. Violation of applicable laws and regulations could adversely affect our brand, affect our relationship with our health insurance carriers, and could result in regulatory enforcement actions and the imposition of civil or criminal penalties and fines, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our business may be adversely impacted by changes in China’s economic or political condition. We have experienced greater competition for qualified personnel in China, which has raised market salaries and increased our compensation costs related to employees in China. If competition for personnel increases further, our compensation expenses could rise considerably or, if we determine to not increase compensation levels, our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel in China may be impaired, which could harm our business, operating results and financial condition. These risks could cause us to incur increased expenses and could harm our ability to effectively and successfully manage our operations in China. Moreover, any significant or prolonged deterioration in the relationship between United States and China could adversely affect our operations in China. Certain risks and uncertainties of doing business in China are solely within the control of the Chinese government, and Chinese law regulates the scope of our foreign investments and business conducted within China. The escalation of trade tensions
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initiated by the current administration has increased the risk associated with our operations in China. Either the United States or the Chinese government may sever our ability to communicate with our China operations or may take actions that force us to close our operations in China. We employ a large number of our technology and content employees in China, and we have other employees in China that support our business. Any sudden disruption of our operations in China would adversely impact our business. If we are required to move aspects of our operations from China to our offices in the United States as a result of political instability, changes in laws, inquiries from health insurance carriers or for other reasons, we could incur increased expenses, and our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.

We cannot predict the impact that changing climate conditions, including legal, regulatory and social responses thereto, may have on our business.

Global climate change has added, and will continue to add, to the unpredictability, frequency and severity of natural disasters, including but not limited to hurricanes, tornadoes, freezes, droughts, other storms and fires in certain parts of the world. In response, a number of legal and regulatory measures and social initiatives have been introduced in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas and other carbon emissions that are chief contributors to global climate change. We cannot predict the impact that changing climate conditions will have on our business, though extreme weather events could impact our facilities, technological assets, business continuity and reputation. The legal, regulatory and social responses to climate change could also adversely affect our results of business, operating results and financial conditions.

Our success in selling Medicare-related health insurance will depend upon a number of factors some of which are outside of our control.

Our success in selling Medicare-related health insurance is dependent upon a number of factors, including:

our ability to continue to adapt our ecommerce platforms to market Medicare plans, including our development or acquisition of marketing tools and features important in the sale of Medicare plans online and the effective modification of our user experience;
our success in marketing to Medicare-eligible individuals, including television advertising, online marketing and direct mail marketing, and in entering into and maintaining marketing partner relationships to drive Medicare-eligible individuals to our ecommerce platforms or customer care centers on a cost-effective basis;
our ability to hire and retain additional employees with experience in Medicare, including our ability to timely implement Medicare sales expertise into our customer care centers;
our ability to implement and maintain an effective information technology infrastructure for the sale of Medicare plans, including the infrastructure and systems that support our websites, call centers and call recording;
our ability to leverage technology in order to sell, and otherwise become more efficient at selling, Medicare-related plans over the telephone;
our ability to comply with the numerous, complex and changing laws, regulations, guidelines and policies of the federal and state government, including CMS guidelines and policies relating to the marketing and sale of Medicare plans and health care reform; and
the effectiveness with which our competitors market the availability of Medicare plans from sources other than our ecommerce platforms.

As a result of these factors, we may prove unsuccessful in marketing Medicare plans and acting as a health insurance agent in connection with their sale, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. In addition, if our efforts to market Medicare plans during enrollment periods were impeded due to lack of timely health insurance carrier or CMS approval, or for other reasons, the impact on our business, operating
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results and financial condition would be significantly greater given the seasonality of our Medicare-related revenue, membership acquisition and expenses and the fact that much of the sales of Medicare plans occur during this period.


Risks Related to Laws and Regulations

The marketing and sale of Medicare plans are subject to numerous, complex and frequently changing laws, regulations and guidelines, and non-compliance with or changes in laws, regulations and guidelines could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

The marketing and sale of Medicare plans are subject to numerous laws, regulations and guidelines at the federal and state level. The marketing and sale of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are principally regulated by the CMS but are also subject to state laws. The marketing and sale of Medicare Supplement plans are principally regulated on a state-by-state basis by state departments of insurance. The laws and regulations applicable to the marketing and sale of Medicare plans are numerous, ambiguous and complex, and, particularly with respect to regulations and guidance issued by CMS for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, change frequently. We have altered, and likely will have to continue to alter, our marketing and sales process to comply with these laws, regulations and guidelines.

Health insurance carriers whose Medicare plans we sell approve our websites, our call center scripts and some of our marketing material. We must receive these approvals in order for us market and sell Medicare plans to Medicare-eligible individuals as a health insurance agent. We are also required to file many of these materials on a regular basis with CMS. In addition, certain aspects of our Medicare plan marketing partner relationships have been in the past, and will be in the future, subjected to CMS and health insurance carrier review. CMS, state departments of insurance or health insurance carriers may determine to object to or not to approve aspects of our online platforms, sales function or marketing material and processes and may determine that certain existing aspects of our Medicare-related business are not in compliance with legal requirements. Health insurance carriers may terminate our relationship with them or take other corrective action if our Medicare product sales, marketing and operations are not in compliance or give rise to too many complaints. The termination of or change in our relationship with health insurance carriers for this reason would reduce the products we are able to offer, could result in the loss of commissions for past and future sales and would otherwise harm our business, operating results and financial condition. Changes to the laws, regulations and guidelines relating to the sale of Medicare plans, their interpretation or the manner in which they are enforced could impact the manner in which we conduct our Medicare business, our ecommerce platforms or our sale of Medicare plans, or we could be prevented from operating aspects of our Medicare revenue generating activities altogether, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. We have received, and may in the future receive, inquiries from CMS or state departments of insurance regarding our marketing and business practices and compliance with laws and regulations. Inquiries and proceedings initiated by the government could adversely impact our health insurance licenses, require us to pay fines, require us to modify marketing and business practices, result in litigation and otherwise harm our business, operating results or financial condition.

Changes and developments in the health insurance industry or system as a result of health care reform could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

The United States health insurance system is subject to a changing regulatory environment. The future financial performance of our business will depend in part on our ability to adapt to regulatory developments. For example, the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and related regulatory reforms have and will continue to change the industry in which we operate in substantial ways. The implementation of health care reform has increased, and could further increase, our competition in the individual and family health insurance market, reduce demand for the health insurance for individuals and families that we sell, decrease the number of health insurance plans that we sell as well as the number of health insurance carriers offering them, cause carriers to increase premiums or reduce commissions and other amounts they pay for our services, any of which could materially harm our business, operating results and financial condition. These and other impacts of health care reform caused a significant decline in our individual and family plan and revenue membership and other changes in the future could have a similar impact on our Medicare related health insurance business. Our business, operating
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results, financial condition and prospects may be materially and adversely affected if we are unable to adapt to developments in healthcare reform in the United States.

The Affordable Care Act contains a mandate requiring individuals to maintain health insurance plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act or face a tax penalty. As a part of the tax reform law that came into effect in December 2017, the tax penalty for violating the mandate was set at zero effective in 2019, essentially repealing it. The essential repeal of the individual mandate could cause individuals to determine not to purchase or maintain individual and family health insurance and could cause carriers to increase premiums, reduce commissions or exit the business of selling individual and family health insurance, any of which would adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.

Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, there have been judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the law. In December 2018, a federal district court in Texas determined that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, because it was not within Congress’s tax power or interstate commerce power. It also determined that the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act were inseverable and therefore invalid. The court, however, did not rule that the operation of the Affordable Care Act be enjoined, so the law continues to operate until determined otherwise by the court or an appellate court. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that the mandate is unconstitutional, but remanded the case back to the district court to address whether the unconstitutionality of the mandate should impact the rest of the law. In March 2020, the Supreme Court agreed to review the case, including whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and if the mandate is unconstitutional whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act can survive. Oral argument of the case before the Supreme Court occurred and we are awaiting the court's decision. If the Affordable Care Act were finally determined to be unconstitutional and no longer operated, it is unclear what impact it or its replacement would have on our business. However, it or its replacement could adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our business depends upon the private sector of the United States health insurance system, which is subject to a changing environment. Changes and developments in the health insurance system in the United States could reduce demand for our services and harm our business. Ongoing healthcare reform efforts and measures may expand the role of government-sponsored coverage, including single payer or so called “Medicare-for-All” proposals, which could have far-reaching implications for the health insurance industry if enacted. Some proposals would seek to eliminate the private marketplace, while others would expand a government-sponsored option to a larger population. We are unable to predict the full impact of healthcare reform initiatives on our operations in light of the uncertainty of whether initiatives will be successful and the uncertainty regarding the terms and timing of any provisions enacted and the impact of any of those provisions on various healthcare and insurance industry participants. Changes to the health insurance system as a result of the change in the balance of power in Congress or as a result of the Biden administration could harm our business, operating results and financial condition. In the event that laws, regulations or rules that eliminate or reduce private sources of health insurance are adopted, the demand for our products could be adversely impacted and our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed.

From time to time we are subject to various legal proceedings which could adversely affect our business.

We are, and may in the future become, involved in various legal proceedings and governmental inquiries, including labor and employment-related claims, claims relating to our marketing or sale of health insurance, intellectual property claims and claims relating to our compliance with securities laws. Any claims asserted against us, with or without merit, could be time-consuming, expensive to settle or litigate and divert management’s attention and other resources. These claims also could subject us to significant liability for damages and harm our reputation. Our insurance and indemnities may not cover all claims that may be asserted against us. If we are unsuccessful in our defense in these legal proceedings, we may be forced to pay damages or fines, enter into consent decrees, stop offering our services or change our business practices, any of which would harm our business, operating results or financial condition.

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Our success in selling health insurance is dependent in part on the actions of federal and state governments. Changes in the laws and regulations governing the offer, sale and purchase of health insurance could harm our business and operating results.

The laws and regulations governing the offer, sale and purchase of health insurance are complex and subject to change, and future changes may be adverse to our business. For example, a long-standing provision in most applicable state laws that we believe is advantageous to our business is that once health insurance premiums are set by the carrier and approved by state regulators, they are fixed and not generally subject to negotiation or discounting by insurance companies or agents. Additionally, state regulations generally prohibit carriers, agents and brokers from providing financial incentives, such as rebates, to their members in connection with the sale of health insurance. As a result, we do not currently compete with carriers or other agents and brokers on the price of the health insurance plans offered on our website. If these regulations change, we could be forced to reduce prices or provide rebates or other incentives for the health insurance plans sold through our ecommerce platform, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. In addition, a federal law was recently passed that requires disclosure of commissions paid to us to the purchaser of small business, major medical individual and family and short-term health insurance plans. The provisions of the law have not gone into effect. It is unclear what impact the law will have when it goes into effect, but it could cause health insurance carriers to lower our commission rates, which could reduce our revenue.

States and federal governments may adopt laws and regulations that are adverse to our business, including laws and regulations that impact the types of health insurance coverage available to consumers, the product features and benefits, our marketing and selling of plans and the role and compensation of agents and brokers in the sale of health insurance.

Changes to the rules and regulations that apply to our sale of Medicare related health insurance are more likely given that the Biden administration recently took office. CMS may change the rules and regulations applicable to us in connection with our Medicare plan business, and those changes could harm our business, operating results and financial condition. The Biden administration has also indicated that it is in support of changes to the Affordable Care Act. It is difficult to predict what changes the Biden administration may make in the rules and regulations relating to our sale of the products that we sell, but the changes could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

If we fail to comply with the numerous state insurance laws and regulations that are applicable to the sale of health insurance, our business and operating results could be harmed.

We are required to maintain a valid license in each state in which we transact health insurance business and to adhere to sales, documentation and administration practices specific to that state. We must maintain our health insurance licenses to continue selling plans and to continue to receive commissions from health insurance carriers. In addition, each employee who transacts health insurance business on our behalf must maintain a valid license in one or more states. Because we do business in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, compliance with health insurance-related laws, rules and regulations is difficult and imposes significant costs on our business. Each jurisdiction’s insurance department typically has the power, among other things, to:

grant, limit, suspend and revoke licenses to transact insurance business;
conduct inquiries into the insurance-related activities and conduct of agents and agencies;
require and regulate disclosure in connection with the sale and solicitation of health insurance;
authorize how, by which personnel and under what circumstances insurance premiums can be quoted and published and an insurance policy sold;
approve which entities can be paid commissions from carriers and the circumstances under which they may be paid;
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regulate the content of insurance-related advertisements, including web pages, and other marketing practices;
approve policy forms, require specific benefits and benefit levels and regulate premium rates;
impose fines and other penalties; and
impose continuing education requirements. 

Due to the complexity, periodic modification and differing interpretations of state insurance laws and regulations, we may not have always been, and we may not always be, in compliance with them. New state insurance laws, regulations and guidelines also may not be compatible with the sale of health insurance over the Internet or with various aspects of our platform or manner of marketing or selling health insurance plans. Failure to comply with insurance laws, regulations and guidelines or other laws and regulations applicable to our business could result in significant liability, additional department of insurance licensing requirements, required modification of our advertising and business practices, changes to our existing technology or platforms, the limitation, suspension and/or revocation of our licenses in a particular jurisdiction, termination of our relationship with health insurance carriers or loss of commissions and/or our inability to sell health insurance plans, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. Moreover, an adverse regulatory action in one jurisdiction could result in penalties and adversely affect our license status, business or reputation in other jurisdictions due to the requirement that adverse regulatory actions in one jurisdiction be reported to other jurisdictions. Even if the allegations in any regulatory or other action against us are proven false, any surrounding negative publicity could harm consumer, marketing partner or health insurance carrier confidence in us, which could significantly damage our brand.

Our business is subject to security risks and, if we experience cyberattacks, security breaches or are otherwise unable to safeguard the security and privacy of confidential data, including personal health information, our business will be harmed.

Our services involve the collection and storage of confidential and personally identifiable information of consumers and the transmission of this information to their chosen health insurance carriers and to government. For example, we collect names, addresses, credit card and social security numbers and protected health information such as information regarding the medical history of consumers. As a result, we are subject to various laws and regulations and contractual requirements regarding the collection, maintenance, protection, use, transmission, disclosure and disposal of sensitive personal information. We also hold a significant amount of information relating to our current and former employees. We cannot guarantee that our facilities and systems, and those of our third party service providers, will be free of security breaches, cyberattacks, acts of vandalism, computer viruses, malware, misplaced or lost data, programming and/or human errors or other similar events. Compliance with privacy and security laws, requirements and regulations, particularly new state legislation such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, may result in cost increases due to new constraints on our business, the development of new processes, the effects of potential non-compliance by us or third party service providers, and enforcement actions. We may be required to expend significant amounts and other resources to protect against security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by security breaches. Despite our implementation of security measures, techniques used to obtain unauthorized access or to sabotage systems change frequently. As a result, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate preventative measures. Additionally, our third party service providers may cause security breaches for which we are responsible.

Any compromise or perceived compromise of our security or the security of one of our vendors could damage our reputation, cause the termination of relationships with government-run health insurance exchanges and our members, marketing partners and health insurance carriers, reduce demand for our services and subject us to significant liability and expense as well as regulatory action and lawsuits, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. The COVID-19 pandemic generally is increasing the attack surface available to criminals, as more companies and individuals work remotely and otherwise work online. Consequently, the risk of a cybersecurity incident has increased. We cannot provide assurances that our preventative efforts, or those of our vendors or service providers, will be successful. In addition, in the event that additional data security laws are implemented, or our health insurance carrier or other partners determine to impose requirements on us relating to
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data security, we may not be able to timely comply with such requirements or such requirements may not be compatible with our current processes. Changing our processes could be time consuming and expensive, and failure to timely implement required changes could result in our inability to sell health insurance plans in a particular jurisdiction or for a particular health insurance carrier or subject us to liability for non-compliance, any of which would damage our business, operating results and financial condition. For instance, health insurance carriers may require us to be compliant with additional security standards in order to accept credit card information from consumers or require us to comply with additional privacy and security standards to do business with us at all. Compliance with privacy and security standards is regularly assessed, and we may not always be compliant with the standards. If we are not in compliance, we may not be able to accept credit card information from consumers or conduct health insurance business, and our relationship with health insurance carriers could be adversely impacted or terminated, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Any legal liability, regulatory penalties, or negative publicity for the information on our website or that we otherwise provide could harm our business and operating results.

We provide information on our website, through our customer care centers, in our marketing materials and in other ways regarding health insurance in general and the health insurance plans we market and sell, including information relating to insurance premiums, coverage, benefits, provider networks, exclusions, limitations, availability, plan comparisons and insurance company ratings. A significant amount of both automated and manual effort is required to maintain the considerable amount of insurance plan information on our website. We also use the information provided on our website and otherwise collected by us to publish reports designed to educate consumers, facilitate public debate, and facilitate reform at the state and federal level. If the information we provide on our website, through our customer care centers, in our marketing materials or otherwise is not accurate or is construed as misleading, or if we do not properly assist individuals and businesses in purchasing health insurance, members, health insurance carriers and others could attempt to hold us liable for damages, our relationships with health insurance carriers could be terminated or impaired and regulators could attempt to subject us to penalties, force us to stop using our websites, marketing material or certain aspects of them, revoke our licenses to transact health insurance business in a particular jurisdiction, and/or compromise the status of our licenses to transact health insurance business in other jurisdictions, which could result in our loss of our commission revenue and harm our business, operating results and financial condition. In the ordinary course of operating our business, we have received complaints that the information we provided was not accurate or was misleading. We have received, and may in the future receive, inquiries from CMS or state departments of insurance regarding our marketing and business practices and compliance with laws and regulations. Although in the past we have resolved these complaints and governmental inquiries without significant financial cost or impact to our brand or reputation, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so in the future. Our sales of short-term health insurance plans that lack the same benefits as major medical health insurance plans may increase the risk that we receive complaints regarding our marketing and business practices due to the potential for consumer confusion between short-term health insurance and major medical health insurance. In addition, these types of claims could be time-consuming and expensive to defend, could divert our management’s attention and other resources, and could cause a loss of confidence in our services. As a result, whether or not we are able to successfully resolve these claims, they could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our business could be harmed if we are unable to contact our consumers or market the availability of our products through specific channels.

We use email and telephone, among other channels, to market our services to potential members and as the primary means of communicating with our existing members. The laws and regulations governing the use of email and telephone calls for marketing purposes continue to evolve, and changes in technology, the marketplace or consumer preferences may lead to the adoption of additional laws or regulations or changes in interpretation of existing laws or regulations. If new laws or regulations are adopted, or existing laws and regulations are interpreted or enforced, to impose additional restrictions on our ability to send email or telephone messages to our members or potential members, we may not be able to communicate with them in a cost-effective manner. In addition to legal restrictions on the use of email, Internet service providers, e-mail service providers and others attempt to block the transmission of unsolicited email, commonly known as “spam.” Many Internet and e-mail service providers have relationships with organizations whose purpose it is to detect and notify the Internet and e-mail service providers of entities that the organization believes is sending unsolicited e-mail. If an Internet or e-mail service provider
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identifies email from us as “spam” as a result of reports from these organizations or otherwise, we can be placed on a restricted list that will block our email to members or potential members.

We use telephones to communicate with customers and prospective customers and some of these communications may be subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, and other telemarketing laws. The TCPA and other laws, including state laws, relating to telemarketing restrict our ability to market using the telephone in certain respects. For instance, the TCPA prohibits us from using an automatic telephone dialing system to make certain telephone calls to consumers without prior express consent. We have policies in place to comply with the TCPA and other telemarketing laws. However, despite our legal compliance, we have in the past and may in the future become subject to claims that we have violated the TCPA. The TCPA provides for statutory damages of $500 for each violation and $1,500 for each willful violation. In the event that we were found to have violated the TCPA, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed. In addition, telephone carriers may block or put consumer warnings on calls originating from call centers. Consumers increasingly screen their incoming emails and telephone calls, including by using screening tools and warnings, and therefore our members or potential members may not reliably receive our emails or telephone messages. If we are unable to communicate effectively by email or telephone with our members and potential members as a result of legislation, blockage, screening technologies or otherwise, our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed.


Risks Related to Finance, Accounting and Tax Matters

Our operating results will be impacted by factors that impact our estimate of the constrained LTV of commissions per approved member.

Effective January 1, 2018, we adopted Accounting Standards Update 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (ASC 606). As a result of the adoption of ASC 606, we recognize revenue for plans approved during the period by applying the latest estimated constrained LTVs for that product. Constrained LTVs are estimates and are based on a number of assumptions, which include, but are not limited to, estimates of the conversion rates of approved members into paying members, forecasted average plan duration and forecasted commission rates we expect to receive per approved member's plan. These assumptions are based on historical trends and require significant judgment by our management in interpreting those trends and in applying the constraints. Changes in our historical trends will result in changes to our constrained LTV estimates in future periods and therefore could adversely affect our revenue and financial results in those future periods. As a result, negative changes in the factors upon which we estimate constrained LTVs, such as reduced conversion of approved members to paying members, increased health insurance plan terminations or a reduction in the lifetime commission amounts we expect to receive for selling the plan to a member or other changes could harm our business, operating results and financial condition. Changes in LTV may result in an increase or a decrease to revenue and a corresponding increase or decrease to commission receivables. In addition, if we ultimately receive commission payments that are less than the amount we estimated when we recognized commission revenue, we would need to write off the remaining commission receivable balance, which would adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.

The rate at which approved members become paying members is a significant factor in our estimation of constrained LTVs. To the extent we experience a decline in the rate at which approved members turn into our paying members, our business, operating results, and financial condition would be harmed.

The forecasted average plan duration is another important factor in our estimation of constrained LTV. We receive commissions from health insurance carriers for health insurance plans sold through us. When one of these plans is canceled, or if we otherwise do not remain the agent on the policy, we no longer receive the related commission payment. Our forecasted average plan duration and health insurance plan termination rate are calculated based on our historical data by plan type. As a result, a reduction in our forecasted average plan duration or an inability to produce accurate forecasted average plan duration may adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.

Commission rates are also a significant factor in our estimation of constrained LTVs. The commission rates we receive are impacted by a variety of factors, including the particular health insurance plans chosen by our
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members, the carriers offering those plans, our members’ states of residence, the laws and regulations in those jurisdictions, the average premiums of plans purchased through us and health care reform. Our commission revenue per member has in the past decreased, and could in the future decrease, as a result of reductions in contractual commission rates, a change in the mix of carriers whose products we sell during a given period, and increased health insurance plan termination rates, all of which are beyond our control and may occur on short notice. To the extent these and other factors cause our commission revenue per member to decline, our revenue may decline and our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed. Given that Medicare-related and individual and family health insurance purchasing is concentrated during enrollment periods, we may experience a shift in the mix of Medicare-related and individual and family health insurance products selected by our members over a short period of time. Any reduction in our average commission revenue per member caused by such a shift or otherwise would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

The determination of constraints is also a factor that requires significant management judgment. Constraints are applied to LTVs for revenue recognition purposes and help ensure that the total estimated lifetime commissions expected to be collected from an approved member's plan are recognized as revenue only to the extent that is probable that a significant reversal in the amount of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur when the uncertainty associated with future commissions receivable from the plan is subsequently resolved. We determine the constraint for each product by comparing prior calculations of LTV to actual cash received and review the reasons for any variations. We then apply judgment in assessing whether the difference between historical cash collections and LTV is representative of differences that can be expected in future periods. We also analyze whether circumstances have changed and consider any known or potential modifications to the inputs into LTV in light of the factors that can impact the amount of cash expected to be collected in future periods including but not limited to commission rates, carrier mix, plan duration, changes in laws and regulations, and cancellations of insurance plans offered by health insurance carriers with which we have a relationship. We evaluate the appropriateness of our constraints on an ongoing basis, and we update our assumptions when we observe a sufficient amount of evidence that would suggest that the long-term expectation underlying the assumptions has changed. If we underestimate the initial constraint applied to LTVs, we might be required to increase the constraint or record an impairment in a future period which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

The closing of the financing transaction with the purchaser of our Series A preferred stock is subject to terms and conditions, many of which are outside our control. We may experience delays and difficulties with the closing of the transaction and no assurance can be given that it will close. The failure to close the transaction could adversely impact our future liquidity and our financial condition.

On February 17, 2021, we entered into an investment agreement pursuant to which we have agreed to issue to a purchaser at closing, 2,250,000 shares of our newly designated Series A preferred stock at an aggregate purchase price of $225 million (the “Private Placement”). The Private Placement is subject to closing conditions, including, among others: (i) the expiration or early termination of the waiting period (and any extension thereof) applicable to the consummation of the Private Placement under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended; (ii) the confirmation by Nasdaq that it has no objection to the terms and conditions of the Private Placement; and (iii) the determination that consummation of the Private Placement would not cause our outside auditor to no longer be deemed independent under the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. While we intend to actively pursue the steps necessary to fulfill our closing conditions, some of the conditions are outside of our control and it is possible that not all of the closing conditions to the Private Placement will be satisfied. The failure to close the Private Placement could adversely impact our future liquidity and financial condition.

The issuance of shares of our Series A preferred stock dilutes the ownership and relative voting power of holders of our common stock and may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

As of February 17, 2021, the common stock to be issued to the purchaser of our Series A preferred stock upon closing of the transaction in the Private Placement represent approximately 8.8% of our outstanding common stock on an as-converted basis. The Series A preferred stock is convertible at the option of the holders at any time after May 31, 2021 into shares of common stock based on the conversion rate set forth in the certificate of
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designations for the Series A preferred stock, which conversion would dilute the ownership interest of existing holders of our common stock. In addition, because holders of our Series A preferred stock are entitled to vote, on an as-converted basis, together with holders of our common stock on all matters submitted to a vote of the holders of our common stock, the issuance of the Series A preferred stock effectively reduces the relative voting power of the holders of our common stock.

Any sales in the public market of the common stock issuable upon conversion of the Series A preferred stock could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock. Pursuant to the investment agreement, holders of our Series A preferred stock will receive customary resale registration rights for common stock issued upon conversion of the Series A preferred stock upon closing. Any resale of our common stock would increase the number of shares of our common stock available for public trading. Sales by our Series A preferred stockholder of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that such sales might occur, could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock.

Our Series A preferred stock has rights, preferences and privileges that are not held by, and are preferential to, the rights of our common stockholders, which could adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition, result in the interests of holders of our Series A preferred stock differing from those of our common stockholders and make an acquisition of us more difficult.

Holders of our Series A preferred stock have (i) a liquidation preference (ii) rights to dividends, which are senior to all of our other equity securities, (iii) redemption rights on or after the sixth anniversary of the closing of the Private Placement and (iv) the right to require us to repurchase any or all of their Series A preferred stock in connection with certain change of control events, each subject to the terms, conditions and exceptions contained in the certificate of designations.

These dividend and share repurchase and redemption obligations could impact our liquidity and reduce the amount of cash flows available for working capital, capital expenditures, growth opportunities, acquisitions, and other general corporate purposes. Our obligations to the purchaser of our Series A Preferred Stock, as the initial holder of our Series A preferred stock, could also limit our ability to obtain additional financing or increase our borrowing costs, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition. The preferential rights could also result in divergent interests between the Series A preferred stockholder and holders of our common stock. Furthermore, a sale of our company, as a change of control event, may require us to repurchase Series A preferred stock, which could have the effect of making an acquisition of our company more expensive and potentially deterring proposed transactions that may otherwise be beneficial to our stockholders.

The purchaser of our Series A preferred stock may exercise influence over us, including through its ability to designate a director on our board of directors.

The investment agreement contains certain negative operating covenants which we have agreed to comply with following closing of the Private Placement and for so long as the purchaser continues to own at least 30% of the shares of Series A preferred stock issued to it in the Private Placement.

Further, the terms of the investment agreement will entitle the initial purchaser of our Series A preferred stock to nominate one individual for election to our board of directors so long as the purchaser continues to own at least 30% of the common stock issuable or issued upon conversion of the Series A preferred stock originally issued to it in the Private Placement. In addition, if we fail to maintain certain levels of commissions receivable and liquidity, the purchaser will be entitled to nominate one additional director. The director designated by the purchaser will also be entitled to serve on committees of our board of directors, subject to applicable law and stock exchange rules. Notwithstanding the fact that all directors will be subject to fiduciary duties to us and to applicable law, the interests of the director designated by the purchaser of our Series A preferred stock may differ from the interests of our security holders as a whole or of our other directors.

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Our debt obligations contain restrictions that impact our business and expose us to risks that could materially adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition.

We are party to a credit agreement with Royal Bank of Canada and other lenders that enables us to borrow up to $75 million pursuant to a revolving credit facility. This credit agreement imposes certain covenants and restrictions on our business and our ability to obtain additional financing. As of December 31, 2020, we had no outstanding debt under our revolving credit facility.

The credit agreement contains customary affirmative covenants, including covenants regarding the payment of taxes and other obligations, maintenance of insurance, reporting requirements and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The credit agreement also contains restrictions that, subject to certain exceptions, limit our ability to merge or consolidate, sell or transfer assets outside the ordinary course of business, make certain types of investments and restricted payments, pay dividends, incur additional indebtedness, grant liens, or enter into transactions with affiliates without the lender’s consent. Further, the credit agreement contains a financial covenant requiring the Company to maintain a minimum level of excess availability at any time. The facility contains events of default, including, among others, non-payment defaults, inaccuracy of representations and warranties, covenant defaults, cross-defaults to other indebtedness, judgment defaults, collateral defaults, bankruptcy and insolvency defaults and a change of control default.

If we experience a decline in cash flow due to any of the factors described in this “Risk Factors” section or otherwise, we could have difficulty paying interest and principal amounts due on our indebtedness and meeting the financial covenants set forth in our loan facility. If we are unable to generate sufficient cash flow or otherwise obtain the funds necessary to make required payments under the credit facility, or if we fail to comply with the requirements of our indebtedness, we could default under our credit facility. Any default that is not cured or waived could result in the acceleration of the obligations under the credit facility, an increase in the applicable interest rate under the credit facility, and would permit our lender to exercise rights and remedies with respect to all of the collateral that is securing the credit facility, which includes substantially all of our assets. Any such default could materially adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition.

Even if we comply with all of the applicable covenants, the restrictions on the conduct of our business could materially adversely affect our business by, among other things, limiting our ability to take advantage of financings, mergers, acquisitions and other corporate opportunities that may be beneficial to the business. Even if the credit facility were terminated, additional debt we could incur in the future may subject us to similar or additional covenants, which could place restrictions on the operation of our business.

If we fail to maintain proper and effective internal controls, our ability to produce accurate financial statements could be impaired, which could adversely affect our operating results, our ability to operate our business and our stock price.

We have a complex business organization. Ensuring that we have adequate internal financial and accounting controls and procedures in place to help ensure that we can produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis is a costly and time-consuming effort that needs to be re-evaluated frequently and is complicated by the expansion of our business operations and changing accounting requirements. Our management, including our chief executive officer and chief financial officer, does not expect that our internal control over financial reporting will prevent all errors or all fraud. A control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the control system’s objectives will be met. Further, the design of a control system must reflect the fact that there are resource constraints, and the benefits of controls must be considered relative to their costs. Controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people, or by management override of the controls. Over time, controls may become inadequate because changes in conditions or deterioration in the degree of compliance with policies or procedures may occur. Because of the inherent limitations in a cost-effective control system, misstatements due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected. We cannot assure that significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting will not be identified in the future. Any failure to maintain or implement required new or improved controls, or any difficulties we encounter in their implementation, could result in significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, cause us to fail to timely meet our periodic reporting obligations, or result in material
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misstatements in our financial statements. Any such failure could also adversely affect the results of periodic management evaluations and annual auditor attestation reports regarding disclosure controls and the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules promulgated thereunder. The existence of a material weakness could result in errors in our financial statements that could result in a restatement of financial statements, cause us to fail to timely meet our reporting obligations and cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, leading to a decline in our stock price and potential lawsuits against us.

Changes in our provision for income taxes or adverse outcomes resulting from examination of our income or other tax returns or changes in tax legislation could adversely affect our results. 

Our provision for income taxes is subject to volatility and could be adversely affected by earnings differing materially from our projections, changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, tax effects of stock-based compensation, outcomes as a result of tax examinations or by changes in tax laws, regulations, accounting principles, including accounting for uncertain tax positions, or interpretations thereof.

To the extent that our provision for income taxes is subject to volatility or adverse outcomes as a result of tax examinations, our operating results could be harmed. Significant judgment is required to determine the recognition and measurement attribute prescribed in U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, relating to accounting for income taxes. In addition, we are subject to examinations of our income tax returns by the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, and other tax authorities. We assess the likelihood of adverse outcomes resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of our provision for income taxes. There may be exposure that the outcomes from these examinations will have an adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition.

Our ability to use net operating losses to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.

We have net operating loss carryforwards for federal and state income tax purposes to offset future taxable income. Our federal and state net operating loss carryforwards begin expiring in 2034 and 2021, respectively. A lack of future taxable income would adversely affect our ability to utilize these net operating loss carryforwards. In addition, utilization of the net operating loss carryforwards may be subject to a substantial annual limitation due to ownership changes that may have occurred or that could occur in the future, as required by Section 382 of the Code and similar state provisions. These ownership change limitations may limit the amount of net operating loss carryforwards and other tax attributes that can be utilized annually to offset future taxable income and tax, respectively. In general, an “ownership change” as defined by Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, results from a transaction or series of transactions over a three-year period resulting in an ownership change of more than 50 percentage points (by value) of the outstanding stock of a company by certain stockholders. Our ability to use the remaining net operating loss carryforwards may be further limited if we experience a Section 382 ownership change as a result of future changes in our stock ownership.


Risks Related to our Technology

Our ability to sell Medicare-related health insurance plans as a health insurance agent depends upon maintenance of functioning information technology systems.

The success of our Medicare plan customer care center operations is dependent upon information technology systems. Many of our Medicare plan members utilize our customer care center in connection with their purchase of a Medicare plan. CMS rules require that our health insurance agent employees utilize CMS-approved scripts in connection with the sale of Medicare plans and that we record and maintain the recording of telephonic interactions relating to the sale of Medicare plans. We rely on telephone, call recording, customer relationship management and other systems and technology in our Medicare customer care center operations, and we are dependent upon third parties for some of them, including our telephone and call recording systems. These systems have failed temporarily in the past and may experience additional disruption due to systems upgrades, power
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outages, an increase in remote work or other impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effectiveness and stability of our Medicare customer care center systems and technology are critical to our ability to sell Medicare plans, particularly during the Medicare enrollment periods, and the failure or interruption of any of these systems and technology or any inability to handle increased volume would harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

System failures or capacity constraints could harm our business and operating results. 

The performance, reliability and availability of our ecommerce and telephony platforms and underlying network infrastructures are critical to our financial results, our brand and our relationship with members, marketing partners and health insurance carriers. Although we regularly attempt to enhance our platforms and system infrastructure, system failures and interruptions may occur if we are unable to accurately project the rate or timing of increases in our website or call center traffic or for other reasons, some of which are completely outside our control. We could experience significant failures and interruptions, which would harm our business, operating results and financial condition. If these failures or interruptions occurred during the Medicare annual enrollment period, the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period or during the open enrollment period under health care reform, the negative impact on us would be particularly pronounced.

We rely in part upon third-party vendors, including data center, cloud infrastructure, and bandwidth providers, to operate our ecommerce and telephony platforms. We cannot predict whether additional network capacity will be available from these vendors as we need it, and our network or our suppliers’ networks might be unable to achieve or maintain a sufficiently high capacity of data transmission. Any system failure that causes an interruption in or decreases the responsiveness of our services would impair our revenue-generating capabilities and harm our business and operating results and damage our reputation. In addition, any loss of data could result in loss of customers and subject us to potential liability. Our facilities and our database and systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from human error, fire, floods, power loss, telecommunications failures, physical or electronic break-ins, computer viruses, acts of terrorism, other attempts to harm our systems and similar events. In addition, our operations are vulnerable to earthquakes, fire, severe weather conditions, including those brought about by climate change, and other natural disasters in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in Northern California, China, and as well as in other parts of the U.S. where we or our outsourced health insurance agents maintain offices.


We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which could harm our business and operating results.

We believe that our intellectual property is an essential asset of our business and that our technology currently gives us a competitive advantage in the distribution of Medicare-related, individual and family and small business health insurance. We rely on a combination of copyright, trademark and trade secret laws as well as confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions to establish and protect our intellectual property rights in the United States. The efforts we have taken to protect our intellectual property may not be sufficient or effective, and our trademarks may be held invalid or unenforceable. Moreover, the law relating to intellectual property is not as developed in China, and our intellectual property rights may not be as respected in China as they are in the United States. We may not be effective in policing unauthorized use of our intellectual property, trade secrets and other confidential information, and even if we do detect violations, litigation may be necessary to enforce our intellectual property rights. Any enforcement efforts we undertake, including litigation, could be time-consuming and expensive, could divert our management’s attention and may result in a court determining that our intellectual property or other rights are unenforceable. If we are not successful in cost-effectively protecting our intellectual property rights, trade secrets and confidential information, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.

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Consumers depend upon third-party service providers to access our website and services, and our business and operating results could be harmed as a result of technical difficulties experienced by these service providers.

Consumers using our website and accessing our services depend upon Internet, online and other service providers for access to our website and services. Many of these service providers have experienced significant outages, delays and other difficulties in the past and could experience them in the future. Any significant interruption in access to our call centers or our website or increase in our website’s response time as a result of these difficulties could damage our relationship with insurance carriers, marketing partners and existing and potential members and could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.


Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock

Our actual operating results may differ significantly from our guidance.

From time to time, we have released, and may continue to release guidance in earnings conference calls, earnings releases, or otherwise, regarding our future performance that represents our management's estimates as of the date of release. This guidance, which includes forward-looking statements, has been and will be based on projections prepared by our management. Guidance is necessarily speculative in nature, and it can be expected that some or all of the assumptions underlying the guidance furnished by us will not materialize or will vary significantly from actual results. Accordingly, our guidance is only an estimate of what management believes is realizable as of the date of release. Our actual results have, and may in the future, vary from our guidance and the variations may be material. In light of the foregoing, investors are urged not to rely upon our guidance in making an investment decision regarding our common stock.

Projections are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates that, while presented with numerical specificity, are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control and are based upon specific assumptions with respect to future business decisions, some of which will change. Among these factors, the assumptions underlying our estimates of commission revenue as required by ASC 606may vary significantly over time. We may state possible outcomes as high and low ranges. Any range we provide is not intended to imply that actual results could not fall outside of the suggested ranges. Any failure to successfully implement our operating strategy or the occurrence of any of the events or circumstances set forth in this “Risk Factors” section could result in the actual operating results being different from our guidance, and the differences may be adverse and material. The principal reason that we release guidance is to provide a basis for our management to discuss our business outlook with analysts and investors and we may decide to suspend guidance at any time. We do not accept any responsibility for any projections or reports published by any such third parties.

The price of our common stock has been and may continue to be volatile, and the value of your investment could decline.

The trading price of our common stock has been volatile and is likely to continue to fluctuate substantially. For the year ended December 31, 2020, the closing price of our common stock fluctuated from $61.81 to $146.09 per share. The trading price of our common stock depends on a number of factors, including those described in this “Risk Factors” section, many of which are beyond our control and may not be related to our operating performance. These fluctuations could cause you to lose all or part of your investment in our common stock since you might be unable to sell your shares at or above the price you paid. Factors that could cause fluctuations in the trading price of our common stock include the following:

price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market from time to time, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
volatility in the market prices and trading volumes of our competitors' shares, including high technology stocks, which have historically experienced high levels of volatility;
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new laws or regulations or new interpretations of existing laws or regulations applicable to our business, including developments relating to the health care industry and the marketing and sale of Medicare plans;
actual or anticipated changes in our operating results or the growth rate of our business;
changes in operating performance and stock market valuations of other technology companies generally, and of our competitors;
failure of securities analysts to maintain coverage of us, changes in financial estimates by any securities analysts who follow our company, or our failure to meet these estimates or the expectations of investors;
sales of shares of our common stock by us or our stockholders;
announcements by us or our competitors of new products or services;
the public reaction to our press releases, other public announcements, and filings with the SEC;
rumors and market speculation involving us or other companies in our industry;
negative publicity about us, including accurate and inaccurate third-party commentary or reports regarding us;
actual or anticipated developments in our business, our competitors' businesses, or the competitive landscape generally;
our ability to control costs, including our operating expenses;
litigation involving us, our industry or both, or investigations by regulators into our operations or those of our competitors;
developments or disputes concerning our intellectual property or other proprietary rights;
announced or completed acquisitions of businesses or technologies by us or our competitors;
changes in accounting standards, policies, guidelines, interpretations, or principles;
any significant change in our management; and
general economic conditions and slow or negative growth of our markets.
The effect of such factors on the trading market for our stock may be enhanced by the lack of a large and established trading market for our stock. In addition, the stock market in general, and the market for technology companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. Broad market and industry factors may seriously affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. Additionally, as a public company, we face the risk of shareholder lawsuits, particularly if we experience declines in the price of our common stock. In the past, following periods of volatility in the overall market and the market prices of a particular company's securities, securities class action lawsuits have often been instituted against affected companies. We have been, and may in the future be, subject to such legal actions.

Anti-takeover provisions contained in our certificate of incorporation and bylaws, as well as provisions of Delaware law, could impair a takeover attempt.

Our certificate of incorporation, bylaws, and Delaware law contain provisions which could have the effect of rendering more difficult, delaying, or preventing an acquisition deemed undesirable by our board of directors. Our corporate governance documents include provisions:

creating a classified board of directors whose members serve staggered three-year terms;
authorizing undesignated preferred stock, which could be issued by our board of directors without stockholder approval and may contain voting, liquidation, dividend, and other rights superior to our common stock;
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limiting the liability of, and providing indemnification to, our directors and officers;
limiting the ability of our stockholders to call and bring business before special meetings;
requiring advance notice of stockholder proposals for business to be conducted at meetings of our stockholders and for nominations of candidates for election to our board of directors;
controlling the procedures for the conduct and scheduling of board of directors and stockholder meetings; and
providing our board of directors with the express power to postpone previously scheduled annual meetings and to cancel previously scheduled special meetings.

These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our management.

As a Delaware corporation, we are also subject to provisions of Delaware law, including Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation law, which prevents some stockholders holding more than 15% of our outstanding common stock from engaging in certain business combinations without approval of the holders of substantially all of our outstanding common stock.

Any provision of our certificate of incorporation, bylaws or Delaware law that has the effect of delaying or deterring a change in control could limit the opportunity for our stockholders to receive a premium for their shares of our common stock, and could also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for our common stock.



ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.


ITEM 2.    PROPERTIES

The following table sets forth the location, approximate square footage and primary use of each of the principal properties we occupied as of December 31, 2020:
LocationApproximate Square FootagePrimary Use
Santa Clara, California45,657Corporate headquarters, marketing and advertising, technology and content and general and administrative
Gold River, California63,206Customer care and enrollment, technology and content and general and administrative
South Jordan, Utah41,813Customer care and enrollment
Xiamen, China53,758Technology and content, customer care and enrollment, marketing and advertising and general and administrative
Austin, Texas26,878Technology and content, customer care and enrollment, marketing and advertising and general and administrative
Indianapolis, Indiana56,276Customer care and enrollment


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ITEM 3.    LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

In the ordinary course of our business, we have received and may continue to receive inquiries from state and federal regulators relating to various matters. We have become, and may in the future become, involved in litigation in the ordinary course of our business. If we are found to have violated laws or regulations in any jurisdiction, we could be subject to various fines and penalties, including revocation of our license to sell insurance in those states, and our business, operating results and financial condition would be harmed. Revocation of any of our licenses or penalties in one jurisdiction could cause our license to be revoked or for us to face penalties in other jurisdictions. In addition, without a health insurance license in a jurisdiction, carriers would not pay us commissions for the products we sold in that jurisdiction, and we would not be able to sell new health insurance products in that jurisdiction. We could also be harmed to the extent that related publicity damages our reputation as a trusted source of objective information relating to health insurance and its affordability. It could also be costly to defend ourselves regardless of the outcome. Our material legal proceedings are described in Part II, Item 8 of this Form 10-K in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Note 8 Commitments and Contingencies,



ITEM 4.    MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.



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PART II

ITEM 5.    MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Our common stock is traded on The Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol EHTH. As of February 16, 2021, there were 26 stockholders of record of our common stock (which does not include the number of stockholders holding shares of our common stock in “street name”) and the closing price of our common stock was $53.74 per share on February 16, 2021 as reported by The Nasdaq Global Market.


Dividend Policy

We have never declared or paid any cash dividend on our common stock. We currently do not expect to pay any dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future.


Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities 

In February 2019, we issued 294,608 shares of our common stock and in January 2020 we issued another 294,608 shares of our common stock, each as a part of earnout payments in connection with our acquisition of GoMedigap, as described in Item 8 – Financial Statements and Supplementary Data – Note 3 – Acquisition of our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. These shares were issued in reliance on Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, as transactions not involving any public offering.

On February 17, 2021, we entered into an investment agreement with H.I.G. pursuant to which we have agreed to sell to H.I.G. at closing, 2,250,000 shares of our newly designated Series A preferred stock at an aggregate purchase price of $225.0 million. These shares will be issued in reliance on Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, as a transaction not involving any public offering.


Securities Authorized for Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans

See Item 12, “Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters” for information regarding securities authorized for issuance.


Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

We did not repurchase any of our common stock in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions during the year ended December 31, 2020.


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STOCK PERFORMANCE GRAPH

The following information relating to the price performance of our common stock shall not be deemed “filed” with the Securities and Exchange Commission or “soliciting material” under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or subject to Regulation 14A or 14C, or to liabilities under Section 18 of the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically request that such information be treated as soliciting material or to the extent that we specifically incorporate this information by reference.

The graph below matches our cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock with the cumulative 5-year total returns on the Nasdaq Composite index and the Research Data Group, or RDG Internet Composite index. The graph tracks the performance of a $100 investment in our common stock and in each index (with the reinvestment of dividends) from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2020.

ehth-20201231_g1.jpg

12/31/201512/31/201612/31/201712/31/201812/31/201912/31/2020
eHealth, Inc.$100.00 $106.71 $174.05 $384.97 $962.73 $707.52 
Nasdaq Composite$100.00 $108.87 $141.13 $137.12 $187.44 $271.64 
RDG Internet Composite$100.00 $104.75 $157.67 $156.03 $207.10 $318.18 


ITEM 6.    SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

No disclosure is required by Item 301 of Regulation S-K as in effect on the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
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ITEM 7.    MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Please read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included under Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


Overview

We are a leading private health insurance marketplace with a technology and service platform that provides consumer engagement, education and health insurance enrollment solutions. Our mission is to connect every person with the highest quality, most affordable health insurance and Medicare plans for their life circumstances. Our platform integrates proprietary and third-party developed educational content regarding health insurance plans with decision support tools to aid consumers in what has traditionally been a confusing and opaque health insurance purchasing process, and to help them obtain the health insurance products that meet their individual health and economic needs. Our omnichannel consumer engagement platform is designed to meet the consumer wherever they prefer to engage with us, and enables consumers to use our services online, through interactive chat, or by telephone with a licensed insurance agent. We have created a marketplace that offers consumers a broad choice of insurance products that include thousands of Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Part D prescription drug, individual and family, small business and other ancillary health insurance products from over 200 health insurance carriers across all fifty states and the District of Columbia.


Impact from COVID-19

We experienced a number of changes in our business related to the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first quarter of 2020, we closed our offices in the United States and China and shifted our employees to a work-from-home model in response to the virus outbreak. While some of our offices in the United States remain closed, we reopened our office in China in the second quarter of 2020 given the improvements in the situation in the region where our office is located. During the third quarter of 2020, we also reopened some of our U.S. office locations at a reduced capacity with additional safety and social distancing measures. Based on our success in shifting existing agents to work from home, we launched a remote agent model in 2020, tapping into nationwide agent talent to hire full-time customer care agents. We expect this model to provide us with geographic hiring flexibility as we grow our telesales capacity.

In addition, we believe the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on consumer behavior when it comes to selecting and utilizing health insurance. We believe that more seniors are now likely to shop for Medicare products online or over the phone versus a face-to-face meeting with a traditional broker. This should have a positive impact on comparison Medicare platforms such as ours. At the same time, we believe that reduced utilization of healthcare by seniors in 2020 also had a dampening effect on Medicare plan switching during the fourth quarter annual enrollment period, or AEP, of 2020. See Risk Factors in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


H.I.G. Investment

On February 17, 2021, we entered into an investment agreement pursuant to which we have agreed to sell to the purchaser at closing, 2,250,000 shares of our newly designated Series A preferred stock at an aggregate purchase price of $225.0 million. The Private Placement is subject to closing conditions, including, among others: (i) the expiration or early termination of the waiting period (and any extension thereof) applicable to the consummation of the Private Placement under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended; (ii) the confirmation by Nasdaq that it has no objection to the terms and conditions of the Private Placement; and (iii) the determination that consummation of the Private Placement would not cause our outside auditor to no longer be
45


deemed independent under the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The parties have agreed to cooperate with each other and use reasonable best efforts to promptly take such actions to cause the closing conditions to be satisfied as promptly as reasonably practicable.


Summary of Selected Metrics

We rely upon certain metrics to estimate and recognize commission revenue, evaluate our business performance and facilitate strategic planning. Our commission revenue is influenced by a number of factors including but not limited to:
the number of individuals on applications for Medicare-related, individual and family, small business and ancillary health insurance plans that are approved by the relevant health insurance carriers;
the number of approved members for Medicare-related, individual and family, small business and ancillary health insurance plans from whom we have received an initial commission payment; and
the constrained lifetime value, or LTV, of approved members for Medicare-related, individual and family and ancillary health insurance plans we sell as well as the estimated annual value of approved members for small business plans we sell.

We have included the number of new paying members in our selected metrics to provide more detail and visibility into new paying member contribution to the changes in membership. We count an approved member as a new paying member when we have received a commission payment from the carrier relating to the plan purchased by the member. Not all approved members become paying members for various reasons. In addition, for any given period, the rate at which approved members become new paying members is impacted by the time lag between carrier approval and our receipt of the commission payment from the carrier. The difference in our metrics between the number of approved members and new paying members tends to vary, especially in the first and fourth quarters given this time lag and given that plans we sell in the fourth quarter do not begin generating commissions until the first quarter when they become effective.

We have removed submitted applications from our selected metrics given that we do not recognize revenue based on this metric, and it is not as indicative of our commission receivable collection as other metrics we do provide.


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Approved Members

Approved members represent the number of individuals on submitted applications that were approved by the relevant insurance carrier for the identified product during the current period. The applications may be submitted in either the current period or prior periods. Not all approved members ultimately become paying members.

The following table shows approved members by product for the period presented:
Year Ended December 31,
202020192018
Medicare:
Medicare Advantage387,652 279,561 148,478 
Medicare Supplement40,551 42,688 29,837 
Medicare Part D74,357 112,677 61,373 
Total Medicare502,560 434,926 239,688 
Individual and Family:
Non-Qualified Health Plans19,578 20,187 23,075 
Qualified Health Plans13,750 11,999 19,575 
Total Individual and Family33,328 32,186 42,650 
Ancillaries:
Short-term41,640 58,687 107,846 
Dental40,455 43,640 47,343 
Vision18,581 21,391 24,638 
Other14,270 22,980 33,500 
Total Ancillaries114,946 146,698 213,327 
Small Business14,809 16,685 19,550 
Total Approved Members665,643 630,495 515,215 

2020 compared to 2019 – Medicare approved members increased 16% in 2020 compared to 2019. The increase in total Medicare approved members was primarily attributable to a 39% growth in Medicare Advantage plan members, partially offset by a 34% decline in Medicare Part D plan members. The increase in approved Medicare Advantage members was primarily driven by strong online enrollment growth, increased marketing efforts, an increase in our internal agent productivity and the COVID-19 related special enrollment period in the second quarter of 2020. During this special enrollment period, certain individuals were permitted to enroll, disenroll or switch their Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. However, our approved application growth was less than expected primarily due to the underperformance of our outsourced external agent force and, to a lesser extent, increased competition in our direct television marketing channel during the fourth quarter 2020 AEP. We also believe that external factors, including the pandemic and the prolonged election cycle, impacted consumer demand on our platform during the 2020 AEP. To address the underperformance of our external agents, we have determined to shift our agent salesforce to a predominantly internal full-time agent model as our internal agents have experienced stronger performance and productivity than our outsourced agents. We began this shift towards the increased utilization of internal agents near the end of the 2020 AEP.

Individual and Family Plan approved members grew 4% in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to a 15% increase in approved members for qualified health plans. Ancillary plan approved members declined 22% in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to a decrease in short-term health insurance approved members. Small business group health insurance approved members declined 11% in 2020 compared to 2019 mainly due to the shift of our focus on our Medicare business.

2019 compared to 2018 – Medicare approved members grew 81% in 2019 compared to 2018. The growth was primarily due to an 88% growth in Medicare Advantage submitted applications and an 84% growth in Medicare
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Part D submitted applications. Individual and Family Plan approved members declined 25% in 2019 compared to 2018, due primarily to market conditions in the individual and family plan market and our decision to shift our marketing investments towards our Medicare business. Approved members for all ancillary products combined declined 31% in 2019 compared to 2018, due primarily to a 46% decline in short term plan submitted applications. Small business approved members decreased 15% in 2019 compared to 2018, due primarily to a decrease in the number of members per application and in the percentage of approved applications.


New Paying Members

New Paying Members consist of approved members from the period presented and any periods prior to the period presented from whom we have received an initial commission payment during the period presented. The following table shows our new paying member by product for the periods presented below:
Year Ended December 31,
202020192018
Medicare:
Medicare Advantage324,916 235,978 134,565 
Medicare Supplement35,649 37,069 48,403 
Medicare Part D104,833 84,369 30,990 
Total Medicare465,398 357,416 213,958 
Individual and Family:
Non-Qualified Health Plans18,279 20,687 27,105 
Qualified Health Plans12,378 10,310 23,199 
Total Individual and Family30,657 30,997 50,304 
Ancillaries:
Short-term41,953 62,124 94,778 
Dental38,253 42,439 45,876 
Vision17,128 21,332 22,604 
Other13,918 21,601 34,029 
Total Ancillaries111,252 147,496 197,287 
Small Business14,362 17,606 18,874 
Total New Paying Members621,669 553,515 480,423 

2020 compared to 2019 – Medicare total new paying members grew 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, primarily driven by a 38% increase in Medicare Advantage plan new paying members and a 24% increase in Medicare Part D prescription drug plan new paying members. Individual and family plan new paying members declined 1% in 2020 compared to 2019 due to a decrease in new paying members for non-qualified plans, partially offset by an increase in new paying members for qualified plans. Ancillary new paying members declined 25% in 2020 compared 2019 due primarily to a decline in approved members across all ancillary plans. Small business new paying members declined 18% in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to a decrease in approved members.

2019 compared to 2018 – Medicare total new paying members grew 67% in 2019 compared to 2018, primarily driven by a 75% increase in Medicare Advantage plan new paying members and a 172% increase in Medicare Part D prescription drug plan new paying members. The increases were primarily driven by an increase in enrollment volume. Individual and family plan new paying members declined 38% in 2019 compared 2018 due to a decrease in new paying members for both non-qualified and qualified plans. Ancillary new paying members declined 25% in 2019 compared to 2018 primarily due to a decline in approved members across all ancillary plans. Small business new paying members declined by 7% in 2019 compared to 2018 primarily due to a decrease in approved members.


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Estimated Constrained Lifetime Value of Commissions Per Approved Member

The following table shows our estimated constrained LTV, of commissions per approved member by product for the years presented below:
Year Ended December 31,
202020192018
Medicare:
Medicare Advantage (1)
$952 $1,013 $964 
Medicare Supplement (1)
1,125 979 1,047 
Medicare Part D (1)
215 238 243 
Individual and Family:
Non-Qualified Health Plans (1)
203 213 151 
Qualified Health Plans (1)
265 217 141 
Ancillaries:
Short-term (1)
162 101 56 
Dental (1)
79 70 77 
Vision (1)
55 56 55 
Small Business (2)
157 159 168 
__________

(1)Constrained LTV of commissions per approved member represents commissions estimated to be collected over the estimated life of an approved member’s policy after applying constraints in accordance with our revenue recognition policy. The estimate is driven by multiple factors, including but not limited to, contracted commission rates, carrier mix, estimated average plan duration, the regulatory environment, and cancellations of insurance plans offered by health insurance carriers with which we have a relationship. These factors may result in varying values from period to period. For additional information on constrained LTV, see Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates.

(2)For small business, the amount represents the estimated commissions we expect to collect from the plan over the following twelve months. The estimate is driven by multiple factors, including but not limited to, contracted commission rates, carrier mix, estimated average plan duration, the regulatory environment, and cancellations of insurance plans offered by health insurance carriers with which we have a relationship and applied constraints. These factors may result in varying values from period to period.

Medicare

2020 compared to 2019 – The constrained LTV of commissions per Medicare Supplement approved member increased by 15% in 2020 compared to 2019, primarily as a result of an increase in estimated average plan duration.

The constrained LTV of commissions per approved member for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans declined by 6% and 10%, respectively, in 2020 compared to 2019, primarily due to a decrease in estimated average plan duration. The decline in estimated average plan duration was driven by various factors, including our historical emphasis on optimizing member experience during the initial enrollment process and driving new enrollment growth with less emphasis and resources allocated to post-transaction communications and existing member retention. In addition, the decline in estimated plan duration was also impacted by certain market related factors including the introduction of the open enrollment period in 2019 which provided an additional opportunity for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drugs plan members to change plans. We also believe that a larger number of Medicare Advantage plan members terminated their plans due to an increased selection of plans with new features and benefits available to consumers for the 2020 plan year and the additional opportunities for consumers to shop and switch Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans
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during the recent open enrollment periods. The decline had a more pronounced impact on our newer member cohorts and on our telephonic enrollments, while our online enrollments continue to have higher average duration.

During the third quarter of 2020, we initiated a number of programs to improve our member retention. For example, we have launched a customer retention team, adjusted the compensation structure of our agents to better align with our retention goals, and deployed new technologies aimed at improving member retention, including the launch of our Customer Center. We believe these efforts will lead to improved plan duration trends during 2021.

2019 compared to 2018 – The constrained LTV of commissions per approved member for Medicare Advantage plans increased by 5% in 2019 compared to 2018, primarily due to improved member attrition and higher commission rates. The constrained LTV for Medicare Supplement approved members declined by 6% primarily as a result of a decrease in the average plan duration, and the constrained LTV of commissions per Medicare Part D approved member declined by 2% primarily as a result of carrier mix.

Individual and Family and Ancillaries

2020 compared to 2019 – The constrained LTV of commissions per approved qualified health plan member increased by 22% in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to increased estimates of average plan duration. The constrained LTV of commissions per short-term health insurance approved member increased 60% in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily as a result of selling plans with higher premium and an increase in estimated average plan duration. The constrained LTV of commission per approved member for dental plans increased by 13% in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to an increase in estimated average plan duration and lower constraints as a result of reduced volatility based on historical trends.

2019 compared to 2018 – The constrained LTV of commissions per qualified and non-qualified health plan for approved members increased by 54% and 41%, in 2019 compared to 2018, respectively, mostly due to improved plan duration. The constrained LTV of commissions per short-term approved member increased 80% in 2019 compared to 2018, primarily driven by an increase in average plan duration.


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Estimated Membership

Estimated membership represents the estimated number of members active as of the date indicated based on the number of members for whom we have received or applied a commission payment during the period of estimation. The following table shows estimated membership by product as of the periods presented below:
As of December 31,
202020192018
Medicare (1)
Medicare Advantage533,282 404,694 276,357 
Medicare Supplement104,188 93,477 70,426 
Medicare Part D238,503 212,478 139,907 
Total Medicare875,973 710,649 486,690 
Individual and Family (2)
116,247 128,487 151,904 
Ancillaries (3)
Short-term23,088 27,862 24,192 
Dental118,647 127,083 138,916 
Vision68,587 71,277 73,987 
Other37,033 38,119 38,136 
Total Ancillaries247,355 264,341 275,231 
Small Business (4)
45,771 42,638 39,101 
Total Estimated Membership1,285,346 1,146,115 952,926 
__________________

(1)To estimate the number of members on Medicare-related health insurance plans, we take the sum of (i) the number of members for whom we have received or applied a commission payment for a month that may be up to three months prior to the date of estimation (after reducing that number using historical experience for assumed member cancellations over the period being estimated); and (ii) the number of approved members over that period (after reducing that number using historical experience for an assumed number of members who do not accept their approved policy and for estimated member cancellations through the date of the estimate). To the extent we determine we have received substantially all of the commission payments related to a given month during the period being estimated, we will take the number of members for whom we have received or applied a commission payment during the month of estimation.

(2)To estimate the number of members on Individual and Family health insurance plans (“IFP”), we take the sum of (i) the number of IFP members for whom we have received or applied a commission payment for a month that may be up to three months prior to the date of estimation (after reducing that number using historical experience for assumed member cancellations over the period being estimated); and (ii) the number of approved members over that period (after reducing that number using historical experience for an assumed number of members who do not accept their approved policy and for estimated member cancellations through the date of the estimate). To the extent we determine we have received substantially all of the commission payments related to a given month during the period being estimated, we will take the number of members for whom we have received or applied a commission payment during the month of estimation.

(3)To estimate the number of members on ancillary health insurance plans (such as short-term, dental and vision insurance), we take the sum of (i) the number of members for whom we have received or applied a commission payment for a month that may be up to three months prior to the date of estimation (after reducing that number using historical experience for assumed member cancellations over the period being estimated); and (ii) the number of approved members over that period (after reducing that number using historical experience for an assumed number of members who do not accept their approved policy and for estimated member cancellations through the date of the estimate). To the extent we determine we have received substantially all of the commission payments related to a given month during the period being estimated, we will take the number of members for whom we have received or applied a commission payment during the month of estimation. The one to three-month period varies by insurance product and is largely dependent upon the timeliness of commission payment and related reporting from the related carriers.

(4)To estimate the number of members on small business health insurance plans, we use the number of initial members at the time the group was approved, and we update this number for changes in membership if such changes are reported to us by the group or carrier. However, groups generally notify the carrier directly of policy cancellations and increases or decreases in group size without informing us. Health insurance carriers often do not communicate policy cancellation information or group size changes to us. We often are made aware of policy cancellations and group size changes at the time of annual renewal and update our membership statistics accordingly in the period they are reported.

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Health insurance carriers bill and collect insurance premiums paid by our members. The carriers do not report to us the number of members that we have as of a given date. The majority of our members who terminate their plans do so by discontinuing their premium payments to the carrier and do not inform us of the cancellation. Also, some of our members pay their premiums less frequently than monthly. Given the number of months required to observe non-payment of commissions in order to confirm cancellations, we estimate the number of members who are active on insurance policies as of a specified date.

After we have estimated membership for a period, we may receive information from health insurance carriers that would have impacted the estimate if we had received the information prior to the date of estimation. We may receive commission payments or other information that indicates that a member who was not included in our estimates for a prior period was in fact an active member at that time, or that a member who was included in our estimates was in fact not an active member of ours. For instance, we reconcile information carriers provide to us and may determine that we were not historically paid commissions owed to us, which would cause us to have underestimated membership. Conversely, carriers may require us to return commission payments paid in a prior period due to policy cancellations for members we previously estimated as being active. We do not update our estimated membership numbers reported in previous periods. Instead, we reflect updated information regarding our historical membership in the membership estimate for the current period. As a result of the delay in our receipt of information from insurance carriers, actual trends in our membership are most discernible over periods longer than from one quarter to the next. As a result of the delay we experience in receiving information about our membership, it is difficult for us to determine with any certainty the impact of current conditions on our membership retention. Various circumstances could cause the assumptions and estimates that we make in connection with estimating our membership to be inaccurate, which would cause our membership estimates to be inaccurate. A member who purchases and is active on multiple standalone insurance plans will be counted as a member more than once. For example, a member who is active on both an individual and family health insurance plan and a standalone dental plan will be counted as two continuing members.

2020 compared to 2019 – Medicare estimated membership grew 23% as of December 31, 2020 compared to December 31, 2019 driven by a 32% increase in Medicare Advantage, as well as 12% and 11% increases in Medicare Part D prescription drug plan and Medicare Supplement plan estimated membership, respectively. The overall growth in Medicare estimated membership was due to our investment in our Medicare business. Individual and family plan estimated membership declined by 10% as of December 31, 2020 compared to December 31, 2019 due to market conditions in the individual and family plan market and our decision to shift our investment to our Medicare business. Ancillary plan estimated membership as of December 31, 2020 declined 6% compared to estimated membership as of December 31, 2019 primarily as a result of the decline of estimated membership of dental, short-term health plans, and vision plans.

2019 compared to 2018 – Medicare estimated membership grew 46% as of December 31, 2019 compared to December 31, 2018 primarily driven by a 46% and 52% increase in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan estimated membership, respectively. Individual and family plan estimated membership declined by 15% as of December 31, 2019 compared to December 31, 2018 primarily due to market conditions in the individual and family plan market and our decision to shift our marketing investments towards our Medicare business. Ancillary plan estimated membership declined 4% as of December 31, 2019 compared to December 31, 2018, primarily due to a 9% decline in dental plan estimated membership. Small business estimated membership grew 9% as of December 31, 2019 compared to December 31, 2018, primarily driven by our focus on key partnerships and technology enhancements.


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Member Acquisition

Marketing initiatives are an important component of our strategy to increase revenue and are primarily designed to encourage consumers to complete an application for health insurance. Variable marketing cost represents direct costs incurred in member acquisition from our direct, marketing partners and online advertising channels. In addition, we incur customer care and enrollment expenses (“CC&E”) in assisting applicants during the enrollment process. Variable marketing costs exclude fixed overhead costs, such as personnel related costs, consulting expenses, facilities and other operating costs allocated to the marketing and advertising department.

The following table shows the estimated variable marketing cost per approved member and the estimated customer care and enrollment expense per approved member metrics for the years presented below. The numerator used to calculate each metric is the portion of the respective operating expenses for marketing and advertising and customer care and enrollment that is directly related to member acquisition for our sale of Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (collectively, “Medicare Plans”) and for all individual and family major medical plans and short-term health insurance (collectively, “IFP Plans”), respectively. The denominator used to calculate each metric is based on a derived metric that represents the relative value of the new members acquired. For Medicare Plans, we call this derived metric Medicare Advantage (“MA”)-equivalent members, and for IFP Plans, we call this derived metric IFP-equivalent members. The calculations for MA-equivalent members and for IFP-equivalent members are based on the weighted number of approved members for Medicare Plans and IFP Plans during the year, with the number of approved members adjusted based on the relative LTV of the product they are purchasing. Since the LTV for any product fluctuates from year to year, the weight given to each product was determined based on their relative LTVs at the time of our adoption of ASC 606.

Year Ended December 31,
202020192018
Medicare:
Estimated CC&E cost per approved MA-equivalent approved member (1)
$368 $355 $315 
Estimated variable marketing cost per MA-equivalent approved member (1)
384 330 297 
Total Medicare estimated cost per approved member$752 $685 $612 
Individual and Family Plan:
Estimated CC&E cost per IFP-equivalent approved member (2)
$92 $102 $61 
Estimated variable marketing cost per IFP-equivalent approved member (2)
83 67 59 
Total IFP estimated cost per approved member$175 $169 $120 
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(1)MA-equivalent approved members is a derived metric with a Medicare Part D approved member being weighted at 25% of a Medicare Advantage member and a Medicare Supplement member based on their relative LTVs at the time of our adoption of ASC 606. We calculate the number of approved MA-equivalent members by adding the total number of approved Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement members and 25% of the total number of approved Medicare Part D members during the years presented.
(2)IFP-equivalent approved members is a derived metric with a short-term approved member being weighted at 33% of a major medical individual and family health insurance plan member based on their relative LTVs at the time of our adoption of ASC 606. We calculate the number of approved IFP-equivalent members by adding the total number of approved qualified and non-qualified health plan members and 33% of the total number of short-term approved members during the years presented.

2020 compared to 2019 – Estimated CC&E costs per approved MA-equivalent member increased 4% in 2020 compared to 2019, due to underperformance of vendor agents which led to lower than expected approved members. Estimated variable marketing costs per approved MA-equivalent member increased by 16% in 2020 compared to 2019, due to a larger portion of applications originating from our online marketing channels which tend to have higher average marketing costs, and it was also impacted by underperformance of vendor agents which resulted in lower than expected approved members. Going forward, we expect a reduction in member acquisition costs per approved MA-equivalent member as a result of improved productivity of our agent force by
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shifting to a predominantly internal employed agent model and, to a lesser extent, an increase in the percentage of unassisted online enrollment.

Estimated variable CC&E cost per approved IFP-equivalent member decreased 10% in 2020 compared to 2019 due primarily to a decrease in personnel-related costs and an increase in the number of approved members. Estimated variable marketing cost per approved IFP-equivalent member increased by 24% in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily driven by an increase in variable marketing costs.


2019 compared to 2018 – Estimated CC&E costs per approved MA-equivalent member increased 13% in 2019 compared to 2018, due to our decision to have more customer care agents during the lower volume quarters, and a significant increase in overtime costs and average call length during the peak volume period in the fourth quarter. Estimated variable marketing costs per approved MA-equivalent member increased by 11% in 2019 compared to 2018, due to an increase in online advertising costs and higher variable marketing costs for select initiatives within the direct and partner channels. As we increased our spending on digital advertising channel for accelerated enrollment growth and market share expansion, the average costs were higher per member.

Estimated variable CC&E cost per approved IFP-equivalent member increased 67% in 2019 compared to 2018, also primarily driven by decline in the number of approved members for non-qualified health plans, qualified health plans, and short-term products as well as increase in investments of IFP-dedicated customer care agents. Estimated variable marketing cost per approved IFP-equivalent member increased by 14% in 2019 compared to 2018 primarily driven by a decline in the number of approved members for non-qualified health plans, qualified health plans, and short-term products.


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Results of Operations  

The following table sets forth our operating results and related percentage of total revenues for the years presented below (dollars in thousands):
 Year Ended December 31,
 202020192018
Revenue:    
Commission$508,189 87 %$466,676 92 %$227,211 90 %
Other74,585 13 %39,525 %24,184 10 %
Total revenue582,774 100 %506,201 100 %251,395 100 %
Operating costs and expenses (1)
Cost of revenue4,083 %2,738 %1,228 — %
Marketing and advertising209,340 36 %150,249 30 %82,939 33 %
Customer care and enrollment172,895 30 %134,304 27 %70,547 28 %
Technology and content65,188 11 %47,085 %31,970 13 %
General and administrative76,452 13 %64,150 13 %45,828 18 %
Change in fair value of earnout liability— — %24,079 %12,300 %
Amortization of intangible assets1,493 — %2,187 — %2,091 %
Restructuring charges— — %— — %1,865 %
Acquisition costs— — %— — %76 — %
Total operating costs and expenses529,451 91 %424,792 84 %248,844 99 %
Income from operations53,323 %81,409 16 %2,551 %
Other income, net666