Oscar Health sues Florida Blue over 'monopolistic' insurance broker policy

Health insurance startup Oscar Health filed a lawsuit against Florida Blue accusing the company of inking exclusive policy agreements with brokers to steer individuals toward Florida Blue plans only.

Here are four things to know:

1. Oscar's lawsuit, filed Nov. 13 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Orlando Division, accuses Florida Blue of barring Orlando insurance brokers from selling any other insurance if they sell Florida Blue policies. Insurance brokers help Americans choose health insurance policies.

2. Oscar, which is offering individual health plans in Orlando for the first time in 2019, further claims Florida Blue's policy allows it to effectively operate as a monopoly. As a result, most of Orlando's insurance brokers only sell Florida Blue plans despite other suitable plans that are available, according to the lawsuit. This, Oscar argues, shrinks consumer choice and "undermines the role of brokers."

3. "Oscar vehemently opposes Florida Blue's policy and is demanding that it immediately terminate it so that consumers can make informed choices about their healthcare with the fair, impartial advice of their local health insurance agent," Oscar said in a news release.

4. Florida Blue told Becker's it believes Oscar's grievances don't have merit.

"Exclusive arrangements in the insurance business have been used for many years by such insurance companies as State Farm, Nationwide, Farmers, Florida Blue and others. There is also nothing about the Florida market which precludes any competitor — let alone a New York-based company with financial backing from Google and operations in nine states — from building an effective distribution channel. There are many agencies available that are not contracted with Florida Blue, and there are also other distribution channels from which they can sell their products."

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Humana CEO says insurer will continue to build on Walmart, Walgreens partnership

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