Startup Health Insurer Oscar Wants to Be Your Doctor, Too

  • Company seeks physician to lead planned Oscar Health Center
  • Expanding firm aims to control costs by narrowing its network

Startup Oscar Insurance Corp. wants to be more than just a health insurer.

The company is laying the groundwork to start a health center in New York where its members can see primary-care doctors, according to a job listing on Oscar’s website. The insurer is seeking a doctor to lead the project, with the job beginning in September.

Running a clinic would be Oscar’s latest effort to adjust its strategy as it confronts massive losses on sales of Obamacare policies. The company already has been narrowing its network of doctors and hospitals in New York, and the clinic could give it more control over the care its members receive.

“Oscar Health Center will be integrated with a top-tier network of specialists and community resources to make sure we can guide members to the best possible care,” Oscar said in the job listing. The posting said physician candidates must be licensed in New York, though it didn’t say where the health center will be located.

An outside spokeswoman for Oscar declined to comment.

In the New York area, Oscar started out with a broad network of doctors and hospitals. That proved costly, and the company reported about $105 million in losses last year in New York and New Jersey.

When the insurer expanded into the Los Angeles area, Dallas and San Antonio for this year, Oscar crafted narrow networks by striking deals with more limited groups of hospitals and doctors.

Other startups have been working to gain more control over which doctors their patients see as well. New insurer Bright Health Inc. is teaming up with hospital system Centura Health to offer individual plans in Colorado next year.

Similarly, Harken Health, an independent subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group Inc., provides primary care to members at Harken Health Centers in Atlanta and the Chicago area. That can help limit expenses by reducing costly emergency-department visits, the company has said.

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