- Insurance newcomer Oscar stumbled on its debut in California’s public health exchange market, enrolling just over 2,000 people as of Feb. 7, Modern Healthcare reported.
- Hurting the firm were higher premiums and narrower provider networks than those offered by its competitors in California marketplace.
- The New York-based startup did better at home and in neighboring New Jersey where a strong advertising campaign and more generous networks attracted customers.
Oscar had enrolled a total of 5,000 customers in the Golden State—2,000 on the public health exchange and 3,000 in private plans.
Oscar’s slow start in California — just 0.1% of the 1.57 million people who got coverage on the public exchange this year — illustrates the difficulty competing with market strongholds like Anthem and Blue Shield. Those firms’ were able to draw consumers to more costly silver plans because they offered broad networks.
This is the first year Oscar has participated in the California exchange, and the company limited its entry to Los Angeles and Orange County. If the firm can’t find a niche that distinguishes it from other more well-know payers, its presence in the state could be short-lived.
Oscar touts itself as a tech savvy insurer, offering apps that allow customers to talk with physicians and order prescriptions from their home, as well as rewards for staying active and fit.