Startup Insurers’ 2021 Losses Add Up to ‘Staggering’ $2.5 Billion

As has been the case in previous quarters, all four of the newly public health insurance startups — Oscar Health, Inc., Bright Health Group, Inc., Clover Health Investments Corp. and Alignment Healthcare, Inc. — reported losses for the final three months of 2021. However, a look at both the fourth quarter and full year reveals that there were considerable differences among those companies in terms of the severity of their losses and the trajectory of their businesses.

“The four public startup health insurers lost $2.5 billion in 2021,” observes Ari Gottlieb, a principal at the consulting firm A2 Strategy Group, who calls that a “staggering amount of money.” Bright Health — which has Medicare Advantage, Affordable Care Act exchange and health care provider assets — was responsible for roughly half of that total loss among the quartet of insurers, losing just under $1.2 billion for the full year.

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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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