Oscar Health sees low enrollment after premiering in California

New York-based Oscar Health, an insurance company start-up, debuted in California during this year's open enrollment period. But the enrollment numbers prove it is off to a slow start in the state.

Numbers from Covered California — the state's public health exchange — show Oscar signed up slightly more than 2,000 consumers on the exchange, according to The Orange County Register. This includes Oscar's 250 enrollments in Orange County and 1,750 sign-ups in Los Angeles County.

Oscar also said it signed up an additional 3,000 customers off the exchange, according to Politico.

Analysts chalk this up to Oscar's high premium prices. "Given that Oscar was on the expensive side in pricing their premiums, it's not surprising that they would have limited enrollment," said Dylan Roby, PhD, a professor at College Park-based University of Maryland School of Public Health and researcher with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, according to the report.

But Peter Lee, executive director for Covered California, has a positive outlook for the insurer. "Putting your foot in the water means you're going to take a little bit of time to grow," Mr. Lee said, according to the report. "We're very positive about them giving consumers new choices. They and all the plans are learning from our experience that price does matter."

Oscar recently commented on its enrollment numbers this year. "We are thrilled by the reaction we have received from members across New York, New Jersey, Texas and California, growing from 40,000 members to over 145,000 members in just one year. It is our continued mission to provide the simple, intuitive healthcare that members love, and we look forward to continued expansion and growth throughout the US," said Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser in a statement.

Editor's note: This article was updated Feb. 19 to include the statement from Oscar Health.

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