How One Startup Built Better Health Insurance With the Magic of Data
FOR 12.2 MILLION Americans, signing up for health insurance in 2017 was a leap of faith: that Obamacare would make it through the year, that the health exchanges wouldn’t collapse, that premiums wouldn’t put their families on the street. For the 54,000 New Yorkers who used those exchanges to join Oscar—a millennial-beckoning insurance startup cofounded by Jared Kushner’s younger brother, Joshua—the 2017 enrollment period wasn’t just uncertain. It was, well, kind of bleak.
In July, Oscar’s members found out the company was halving its largest network, based in New York City, from 40,000 doctors to 20,000, from 77 hospitals to 31. That kind of forced breakup should have been a very tough sell.
But somehow, Oscar convinced almost all of those 50,000-plus members to stay. The pitch they made was simple, if not exactly intuitive: Choose better care and service over a thicker phonebook of doctors. They threw in perks like concierge care teams and direct scheduling from your smartphone to sweeten the deal. And it worked. At the time, no one asked how, exactly, they were going to deliver a paradigm-smashing network—one that was smaller but also somehow better. And Oscar wouldn’t have been at liberty to say. But the answer, of course, was big data.