April 21, 2015


The oddball start-up that shows how ObamaCare has made a friendlier insurance market (Jeff Spross, April 21, 2015, The Week)

Whatever our political divisions, one thing Americans agree on is that dealing with health insurance is a Kafka-esque hassle.

Oscar, an oddball start-up health insurer in New York state, aims to change that. It's got a user-friendly website that offers providers after you type in your symptoms, along with free 24/7 internet consultations with doctors. It lets you compare prices from different providers and refill prescriptions with one click. It's even partnering with CVS to build care locations throughout the state, and it's hiring nurses to offer in-home follow-up services, especially for new moms.

Oscar got started in New York when ObamaCare's exchanges opened. In the last year, it's tripled its value on the stock market to a staggering $1.5 billion, and tripled its customer base to 40,000. Oscar is already selling plans on New Jersey's exchange, and will enter Texas and California shortly.

Way back in 2009, David Goldhill wrote a sweeping piece for The Atlantic on how to reform the American health care system. One of his ideas was the introduction of "health care agents" who would help consumers navigate their health care choices and act as advocates for them. When you think about it, health insurers are perfectly positioned to do that. Yet they've long been considered the predatory enemies of consumers.

Oscar is the first inkling of what the shift into the agent role might look like. 

Posted by at April 21, 2015 6:23 PM

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