Tell most startup managers that they will have 17, 000 users, and they might turn pale, ghostlike. But 17, 000 users is just fine for Oscar, when its target was just 7, 500, according to Fortune magazine. The company aims to change the way people approach healthcare, and its colorful, humorous subway ads are geared to creative types and freelancers who may not have conventional 9 to 5 jobs, but with Obamacare, have new options when it comes to having their own insurance.
The insurance industry can be complex at times, and there is no wonder why it tends to be dominated by older players. In addition, healthcare reform has complicated matters, but CEO Mario Shlosser remains confident. Oscar has secured $150 million venture capital backing, and now has 10% market share in New York, recently expanded in New Jersey and is looking forward to a presence in California within the year. Expanding into new states isn’t easy, given the various rules and regulations.
Oscar has not escaped without criticism, but how could it, given the ambitious task of creating disruptive technology in such a risky industry? Some customers have complained about prices of services, and Schlosser admits, “the complexity of this system is astounding.” However, he is undeterred because he believes in the ethics of what he is doing. Schlosser says many insurance providers would be otherwise guilty of “outright fraud … the audacity is totally shocking and mind blowing.”
The company’s new promotion is that customers get $1 a day every time they measure their steps with a wearable device produced by Misfit Wearables. Some customers might worry about giving data to an insurance company, which might penalize them for sedentary behavior, but Schlosser said such a practice would be obviously illegal.
“There is an incredible amount of happiness we generate, ” Schlosser said.