Commentary

When Success Is About Doing Old Things in New Ways

Aug 11, 2017

Good morning.

I spent some time yesterday at Oscar Health – a tech-enabled health insurance company that has gotten ink lately because one of its founders was Josh Kushner – brother of Jared. The name – Oscar – comes from the Kushners’ great-grandfather.

But what makes Oscar truly notable is its customer-centric business model. Oscar is one of those companies that gained venture backing and a tech-like valuation ($2.6 billion) by doing old things in a new way – kind of like WeWork (real estate) or Blue Apron (groceries). While most big health insurance companies focus on employers, who pay the bills, and providers, who charge for their services, Oscar starts with the customer. Traditional insurance companies, says CEO Mario Schlosser, “don’t think about the customer relationship.”

Also distinguishing Oscar is its smart use of data. A data geek who previously worked at hedge fund Bridgewater, Schlosser recognized that insurance companies have unique access to health care data, but generally use it only for billing purposes. Oscar exposes that data to customers, creating a beautiful app that allows people to track doctor visits, drug purchases, and lab work. It also gives access to telemedicine services 24-7, and helps find doctors and book appointments.

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In that sense, Oscar is a model for all other companies navigating their way through the new industrial revolution. It is distinguished not so much by its technology, but by how that technology enables a completely new way of doing business.

The company currently covers 90,000 people, with policies sold mostly through the Affordable Care Act, in New York, Texas and California. But it is expanding to three new states next year. It opened Oscar for Business in April, and recently partnered with Humana to offer health plans to small businesses. Traditional insurers should pay heed.

More news below. And if you want to follow the disruption in health care more closely, be sure to subscribe to Fortune Brainstorm Health, here.

Enjoy the weekend.

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