Oscar makes progress in push to stem losses

Oscar CEO Mario Schossler, seen here giving an interview during the 2015 World Health Care Congress, said this week that 2017 will be a pivotal year for the startup insurer.

While Oscar is still losing millions of dollars, the startup insurer is at least losing considerably less money this year than it has in years past.

In the first three months of 2017, Oscar lost $25.8 million, Bloomberg reports. That is nearly half of the $48.5 million loss it had recorded as of the same time in 2016.

Overall in 2016, the insurer lost about $205 million. In 2015, it recorded a $121.7 million loss.

Oscar faces steep odds. Not only is it a startup in the difficult-to-disrupt health insurance industry, but it also operates on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, where even larger, legacy companies have struggled to make a profit.

But as he has indicated previously, Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser said Monday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York that he feels 2017 will be the year that the insurer stages a turnaround.

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There is evidence his prediction could be correct, as the premiums it collected so far this year have exceeded what it spent on claims, Bloomberg notes. However, its membership has also dipped this year.

Currently, the insurer sells policies in three states: New York, California and Texas. Going into 2017, Oscar raised premiums and slimmed down its provider networks for its New York plans.

Data, it turns out, has played a starring role in Oscar’s effort to optimize its networks. The company used claims and patient data to recategorize physicians based on quality and specialty skills, then employed predictive modeling to measure how people accessed health services. That information combined helped it build networks more in line with members’ needs, FierceHealthcare reported.

Looking ahead, Schlosser said Monday that he wants lawmakers to work toward creating a viable individual market, noting that the ACA repeal bill passed by the House “has a lot of flaws,” according to Bloomberg.