6 things to know about Oscar Health

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New York-based Oscar Health, a young insurance company, provides a mobile app for clients fully equipped with unique "click and appointments" options, according to the L.A. Times.

Oscar Health has branded itself as a simple, sleek, web-focused alternative to its more cumbersome — albeit market-dominating — contemporaries. Its marketing campaign is largely centered on ease of use for the consumer. "The causal, personal tone of Oscar's messaging stands in stark contrast to faceless, corporate sensibility of traditional health insurance companies," Fortune wrote in April.

Here are six things to know about Oscar Health.

1. Using a computer or the smartphone app, Oscar Health members can type in what they feel is wrong to identify a possible medical condition. For instance, they can write "I can't stop wheezing," which would prompt asthma, as well as several other conditions, to appear in the search results.

2. Users are then shown a list of primary care physicians or specialists with estimated costs. While typically consumers could expect to be charged a total of $200 in co-pays and typical prescriptions or tests, Oscar's app provides patients with unlimited free telephone consultations with physicians who can prescribe medication on the call, according to the report. 

"Pull up the Oscar mobile app, push a button and a doctor will call you in 10 minutes — no co-pay, no cost," Oscar Health CEO Mario Schlosser said, according to the report.

3. The app and website also present users with other helpful information, including how often a physician treats patients of your age, gender and the estimated costs you would incur. It also indicates which appointment option has proved most effective in terms of outcomes and cost. For instance, in the case of asthma, the plan's unlimited free telephone consultations yield the best results.

4. Other features on the app and website include free fitness trackers. Users can earn Amazon gift cards for reaching daily exercise goals. Oscar's larger competitors, such as Anthem and Kaiser Permanente, offer similar online services, but experts described Oscar's as more comprehensive and unified. 

5. Next month, Oscar Health plans will be available for open enrollment in Dallas and San Antonio, both on and off the federal exchange, according to The Dallas Morning News. Oscar will partner with Tenet Healthcare and Baylor Scott & White Health, both based in Dallas. It will offer family and individual health insurance.

Oscar will also offer insurance on the Covered California individual market, where the four largest payers command 94 percent of the individual market. Oscar already sells health insurance in New York and New Jersey. It will first offer plans for individuals and families on the individual market in western Los Angeles and Orange counties and will begin enrolling new members for 2016 when open enrollment starts Nov. 1, according to the report.

6. Oscar offers an Exclusive Provider Organization plan, essentially a combination of the HMO and PPO models. In an EPO, consumers receive no coverage for out-of-network services, but unlike an HMO, they don't need a primary care physician or a referral to see a specialist, according to the report. Renton, Wash.-based Providence Health & Services and UCLA Health have joined Oscar's network, signing on 16 area hospitals and more than 5,000 physicians

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect Oscar's mobile app is not new. Oscar Health has always included the app as part of its service. Additionally, more information was added to point No. 5 regarding the company's plan to offer health insurance in Texas beginning in November. We apologize for these errors. 

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