How To End Up With Oscar, “the Uber of Health Insurance”

STEP 1: Read something about a new approach to health insurance by and mostly for young people / millennials.

STEP 2: Retain a vague, positive impression of the company, which has a striking, unusual name, even if you can’t recall precisely what it is. Forget all relevant details.

STEP 3: Embark on a health insurance odyssey for your family. Your goal is to cover the three of you — two adults, one baby — for $850.

STEP 3.5: Think longingly of martinis. Shopping for health care is tedious and yet terrifying; a martini would probably help, but you’re a pitiful lightweight who barely drinks. Eat dark chocolate instead and try to focus on the task at hand.

STEP 4: Encounter, as an Obamacare option, Oscar. Think: Oscar? Oh yeah, I read about you! You’re the new kid on the block, right?

STEP 5: Read more press.

Under all its plans, Oscar allows its members unlimited free calls with physicians. The doctors are supposed to call back within an hour, but on average, calls are returned within seven minutes of being placed, says Mr. Nazemi. (Of course, many primary care physicians already provide this type of service to their existing patients.) These calls can provide a quick diagnosis and a prescription sent directly to a pharmacy for common ailments like pink eye and urinary tract infections. Oscar pays the physicians $40 a call, which is significantly less than it would reimburse for an office visit.

One individual who called had taken a tumble in the subway and wondered if his arm was broken, recall Oscar’s executives. Over the phone, the doctor took the patient through a range of motions and determined that the arm wasn’t broken. He advised putting an ice pack on it and seeing the primary care physician the next day. That saved the patient an expensive trip to the emergency room, Oscar’s founders said.

STEP 6: Seek out confirmation bias. Ask a friend if she’s heard anything about the company. Listen to her describe, with animation, how a friend of hers has had a really good experience with it so far. On the strength of that one anecdote about someone you yourself don’t even know, feel pretty certain that you will try Oscar.

STEP 7: Talk to your fella and ascertain that he, too, is intrigued by the idea of start-up health insurance disruptors related by marriage to Donald Trump.

STEP 8: Enjoy the novelty of surfing a health insurance company website that’s actually attractive and easy to use.

STEP 9: Check if your local hospital takes the insurance. It does. Check that the price for a couple’s coverage would be within the $850 budget. It is. Check the Internet for user reviews and pore over the responses on a relevant Metafilter thread, which include a phenomenally detailed spreadsheet of options and prices.

STEP 10: Decide what the hell, we’ve gone the mainstream route for health insurance in the past with mixed results; why not see what the new kids on the block are up to? Sign up for Oscar. Pay your first month’s premium online. Total amount spent on health insurance for three individuals: a hair over $850. Consider that a success. Heart beating a little too fast, lean back and wait to see what happens next.

This is Part II of a series, Shopping for Health Care. Stay tuned for Part III: Repercussions!

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