Health Insurance Startup Oscar Eyes Entry Into California By Next Year

Oscar, the New York-based startup that’s trying to shake up health insurance, is eyeing a debut on the West Coast by next year.

The company is in the process of applying to operate in California for the 2016 individual exchange.

“We haven’t been approved yet,” said Josh Kushner, the company’s co-founder. “But we’re hopeful that we will be, because we believe we meet the bar.”

The company will find out over the spring or summer if they can expand to the country’s most populous state. If they do, people who want to enroll could do so by the fall.

Oscar is trying to be a more personal and immediate health insurance provider, with marketing, product design and customer service practices that are more in tune with the millennial generation. They do telemedicine for free and let customers speak to doctors 24 hours a day and seven days a week with a goal of 10 minute wait time or less.

They were the first new health insurance provider to launch in the state of New York in more than a decade. Initially, there were some bumps with poor reviews within the first few months, but Kushner said the company has stepped up customer service since.

“Every interaction we have with the customer has to be productized,” he said. “Every time we get feedback, we just implement it.”

Oscar saw about 15,000 members enroll last year, and they’ve doubled that number to 30,000 in this year with one month of enrollment left to go.

With typical insurance customers spending an average of $4,500 to 5,000 per year, that’s about $150 million in annual revenue.