Oscar Becomes Latest Startup to Draw Scrutiny After IPO

Oscar Health Inc., the perennially buzzy startup health insurer, saw its shares slide almost 11% during its first day as a publicly traded company on March 3. But Oscar’s underwhelming debut doesn’t come as a surprise to some industry consultants, who observe that the firm’s technology- and customer-experience-driven business model may be a poor fit for an individual health insurance market where customers tend to flock to the lowest-premium plans.

And that scrutiny comes as another startup insurer — Medicare Advantage-focused Clover Health — released its first quarterly earnings results since it went public, all while trying to shake off the cloud of controversy stirred up by a critical short-seller report that caused its stock prices to plummet (HPW 2/12/21/ p. 1).

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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