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Reality check for innovative Oscar Insurance Corp.


Oscar Insurance Corp., the startup that has  touted itself  as a consumer- and technology-focused new  healthcare approach, has had to turn to the same strategy as many traditional insurers by reducing  Affordable Care Act insurance-marketplace participation for 2017.

It will stop offering plans in the Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas market and in New Jersey  starting Jan. 1. It will continue to sell plans in New York; San Antonio, Texas; Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif.; and it will expand to San Francisco.

The company blamed the ACA’s individual market, saying that  it “isn’t working as intended and there are weaknesses in the way it’s been set up,” CEO Mario Schlosser told Bloomberg.

HealthcareDive reported that the announcement is part of the company’s efforts to “re-strategize after suffering continued marketplace losses, including its recently announced losses from the first half of 2017 which included $52.2 million in New York state, $17.9 million in Texas and $12.9 million in California.”

The news service added: “Oscar has also followed industry trends in narrowing its networks and in seeking a major rate increase in New York of 26.8 percent, which was reduced by regulators to 11.5 percent.”

Mr. Schlosser said Oscar is leaving New Jersey because it didn’t have a narrow network there to contain costs, and Dallas-Fort Worth because its market  there has been too unpredictable.

“One major difference currently between Oscar and its mainstream competitors such as UnitedHealth, Humana, and Aetna, which are also pulling back for 2017, is that it doesn’t have other business beyond its individual policies to fall back on — but it plans to change that by offering small group insurance across most of its 2017 markets,” Healthcare Dive reported.

To read the news service’s full article, please hit this link.



Google moves into health insurance


Insurance startup Oscar Health Insurance Corp. has gotten a $32.5 million investment from Google as Oscar tries to grab business from  such entrenched insurance giants as UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Anthem Inc.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Oscar has amassed a considerable war chest of more than $350 million in its bid to use data and technology to make the insurance business work more like an Internet service. More than 40,000 patients have signed up in New York and New Jersey, Oscar’s first and only markets so far, and the company plans to open its service to users in California and Texas at the beginning of next year.”

“Mario Schlosser, who co-founded Oscar in 2012, said part of his goal is to help fuel the adoption of new healthcare technologies developed by other companies. Google, whose Life Sciences arm is jointly developing a contact lens with pharmaceutical company Novartis AG that monitors glucose levels from human tears, could eventually work with Oscar to help distribute these types of new medical products to patients, Mr. Schlosser said.”


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