Modern Healthcare reports that New York-based Oscar intends to enter the Medicare Advantage space in 2020, as well as to expand its presence in the individual and small business markets. In addition, Oscar’s board is getting Salar Kamangar, a Google executive and the former CEO of YouTube, as a new member.
Oscar regards technology and data as the keys to transform the health insurance industry, and Alphabet’s buy-in is a vote of confidence, according to The Hill. Currently Oscar offers health coverage in six states through the Affordable Care Act, “and seeks to make the system smarter through innovations like having a ‘concierge’ team, including a nurse, that helps enrollees with tasks like finding the right doctor.”
According to The Hill, the role of Josh Kushner, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s brother, as cofounder has raised some eyebrows because of Oscar Health’s participation in the ACA.
In a Wired interview, Oscar Health CEO Mario Schlosser said of the Alphabet influx of cash, “It’s fantastic for us because it will really allow us to focus fully on the core model we’ve been building for the past 6 years, which is: use technology, use data, use design, use a human approach to build a very different health care experience,” adding, “And that’s what this allows us to do.”
It’s not the first time Alphabet has put money into Oscar, having done so through its venture capital fund Capital G and its health services spinoff Verily. But this move ups the ante, and although Wired says neither company offered specific figures, “it seems that Alphabet will now own roughly 10 percent of Oscar.”
The way Oscar is going about its business is by basically rebuilding its infrastructure. Schlosser told Wired, “We have our own claims system we’ve been building, we have our own clinical management system, we built our networks ourselves—pretty much everything that we do internally to manage people’s health care was reinvented and rebuilt from a technology perspective.”
And it certainly sounds that way, with Schlosser saying about the Alphabet investment, “We can hire more engineers, we can hire more data scientists, more product designers, more smart clinicians who can think about health care a different way.”