Healthcare Act Enrollment Period Ends Feb. 15 2015
Medicare Enrollment Period Ends December 7 2014
New Jersey, meet Oscar.
The state’s newest health insurance company — although named after co-founder Josh Kushner’s great-grandfather — endeavors to be a thoroughly modern alternative geared to the tech-savvy consumer who is searching for coverage via the Affordable Care Act.
Need help selecting a plan? The company prides itself on its easy-to-navigate website, www.hioscar.com. Something ailing you but have no time to wait for an appointment? Stand by for a call from an MD for a “tele-visit.” Can’t remember what you were prescribed the last time you had a sinus infection? Login to your account at HiOscar.com and see your medical “timeline.”
Oscar wants to be the search engine for health care consumers – the place its members start with to manage their health, and to find a doctor and compare prices said co-founder Mario Schlosser, a computer scientist who has worked in the gaming industry.
“If we can build tools that teach people how to manage their health in smart ways, that are engaging and easy to use, we will do something that hasn’t been in the healthcare system before,” Schlosser said from his Manhattan office.
Oscar’s 30-plus reviews on Yelp, the go-to consumer site for the digital generation, are decidedly mixed. Fans praise the customer service and online tools; critics bemoan the lack of physicians and the sticker shock when they realize what isn’t covered.
Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, said “narrow” physician networks are a fact of life in any plan sold on the exchange. Only one of the five companies selling on New Jersey’s exchange, AmeriHealth, even offers an out-of-network option, he said.
“All of the things you hear about Oscar you can fill in the blanks with most other plans in most other states,” Cantor said. “It’s their way of keeping the costs in check. And there are only so many tools available for doing that.”
“High out-of-pocket cost sharing is a long-term trend, and the reason it is making news now is because more people are looking at coverage,” he added. “I think it’s a trend that is here to stay.”
Computer scientist, Harvard Business School grad and one of Oscar’s three co-founders, Schlosser describes the company’s philosophy, its inaugural year in New York and what New Jersey consumers can expect should they choose his company when open enrollment on the health exchange — healthcare.gov — begins Nov. 15. The company also has its own website and will offer coverage to all N.J. consumers.