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US: Alphabet joins up with insurance startup

 |  August 15, 2018

Alphabet, has invested US$375 million in Oscar Health, a health insurance startup co-founded by Trump advisor Jared Kushner’s brother, Joshua Kushner. CNBC reported that Alphabet now owns around 10% of the 6 year-old startup, which utilizes a combination of technology, provider partnerships, and member experience so that it can make health insurance pricing clearer for patients and offer doctors more flexible payment models.

As part of the investment, Google employee and former YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar will join Oscar’s board. Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser said that this latest investment will help launch Oscar’s product into more cities, as well as allow it to start selling to seniors through Medicare Advantage by 2020.

The news comes just a few months after two other subsidiaries of Alphabet — venture firm CapitalG and life sciences division Verily — participated in a US$165 million round that valued Oscar at US$3.2 billion. The round was led by Founders Fund, with other investors participating in the funding, including 8VC, Fidelity, General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, and Thrive Capital, among others. The funding will be used to fuel the company’s next phase of growth.

“More than five years ago, long before today’s dizzying array of mergers and new entrants, we knew the only way to fix a broken healthcare system was to empower the consumer,” wrote co-founders Kushner and Schlosser. “We started Oscar to secure the trust of consumers, to use data science and technology to proactively guide them to the best and most affordable doctors, and to finally introduce choice, competition and value to healthcare.”

The two also revealed that the company had generated an underwriting profit last year, enrolled close to 250,000 members and is projecting gross premium revenue of more than US$1 billion. Oscar said it has highly engaged members, which are translating into better and easier care for thousands of people around the country.

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