The rollout comes as Oscar struggles with its original bet on individual insurance through the Affordable Care Act, a move which vaulted the company, now valued at $2.7 billion, to initial success. Oscar was the only startup that had the approval to sell exchanges under Obamacare when it launched in 2013, right before the ACA began to take full effect. That proved to be a catalyst for the company and it still owes the majority of its pipeline to the program.
But the individual marketplace isn’t as lucrative as hoped in some areas of the country. Despite the large valuation, Oscar reportedly lost $128 million in the first three quarters of last year and was down $105 million in 2015. The company has since trimmed operations, boosted pricing and shuttered ACA sales in Dallas and New Jersey to steer the company around.
There’s also a lot of uncertainty surrounding Obamacare. Though Republicans failed to gain consensus on a bill to repeal President Obama’s legislative legacy, our current administration has vowed to continue chipping out a deal to do away with the act.
It does seem a convenient time to introduce a new plan considering the previous losses, coupled with the ACA’s currently precarious position as the threat of an overhaul lingers. But Oscar for Business is not a new answer to a failing model, according to CEO Mario Schlosser. He tells TechCrunch the new product has been in the blueprint all along.
“Most Americans get health insurance through their employers,” he pointed out. “Very early on we thought maybe we should build software for existing employers, existing insurance companies.”
The ACA covers about 20 million Americans who otherwise would not have insurance. However, that same measure requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide workers with health insurance as well. Oscar for Business taps into this requirement, which covers roughly 56 percent of the U.S. population. Affording this portion of the bill is not dismantled by those seeking to eviscerate Obamacare, it easily provides another avenue of growth for the startup and could eventually lead Oscar to larger corporate deals.
Oscar for Business officially rolls out today in New York state, where it has already soft launched and worked with a handful of businesses for the last couple of months. The new product is intended for small business owners with 100 employees or less and will offer the same services as the individual plans. Oscar will eventually offer the same service in other states as it works through regulatory hurdles.