June 21, 2018 / 10:23 AM / 6 months ago

Oscar to expand individual health insurance to more states

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oscar Health, which began selling individual health insurance in New York for the 2014 launch of the Obamacare exchanges, on Thursday announced plans to expand into Florida, Michigan and Arizona next year, even as the Trump administration seeks to undercut that marketplace with cheaper insurance products.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government issued a final rule that will allow small companies to band together as associations to buy healthcare that does not comply with many of the same rules as the plans sold on the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare.

Oscar Chief Executive Officer Mario Schlosser said there is always change happening in the individual insurance market and that the company is confident it can adjust after five years of experience.

“Whatever happens there, we now know how to incorporate it into premium rates and pricing,” Schlosser said.

Oscar, which raised $165 million in funding earlier this year from companies including San Francisco venture capital firm Founders Fund and two units of Alphabet Inc, also sells small business plans and will continue to expand that business, Schlosser said.

It has 240,000 total members in the six states where it currently operates individual and small group plans. It grew that membership by 250 percent in 2018 from 2017.

The company uses technology to engage its members, allowing them to schedule physician visits through a mobile app and to check on health information, such as lab results. Its health plans also typically incorporate free telehealth visits.

More than 10 million people signed up for individual insurance on the exchanges, which the government subsidizes based on income level. President Donald Trump last year cut off payments on one group of subsidies, and Republicans also repealed the Obamacare individual mandate, which had required Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine.

Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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