Oscar, The New York Health Startup Looking To Revolutionize Insurance, Launches

Oscar, the New York-based startup from Thrive Capital’s Josh Kushner, has finally launched. Their debut comes as the U.S. government unveils new health insurance exchanges where consumers can pick and choose plans.

The startup, backed with $40 million in funding, is an insurer itself and is looking to make the consumer experience less opaque. They’ve launched four tiers of plans for people of different income ranges and family sizes. Below is an example range of plans for someone with no kids who makes $50,000 a year in New York — which might give you an idea of Oscar’s target demographic. The plans range from $218 ro $365 a month.

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One of the things they are offering to differentiate themselves against other health insurers is unlimited access to telemedicine. Clients should be able to call up doctors for any ailment at any time. There is also free access to generic drugs on certain plans.

Another thing they’re doing is using natural language processing to match symptoms patients are reporting with appropriate doctors. So if a patient complains of chest pain, the system should route them to physicians who might have the matching expertise.

Oscar is actually licensed as a health insurance operator in the state of New York, so it isn’t some kind of front-end. This also gives it more power to be creative with the entire consumer experience.

And the $40 million the company raised isn’t actually all going toward operations. Because of state regulations around the industry, about $29 million of that round is kept in reserve. Only $11 million of the funding is actually going toward operations.