As Oscar Health prepares for an initial public offering, some analysts argue that the insure tech darling’s reliance on reinsurers makes the New York City-based company a technology startup in the insurance industry, rather than a full-stack health insurer.
Oscar, which did not respond to interview requests, is liable for just 23% of the risk associated with the policies it has sold. The company has passed on the rest of the uncertainty to reinsurance companies, or businesses that basically act as insurance for insurers. While reinsurers are also used by legacy payers, startups like Oscar Health generally rely on these companies to a greater degree as a way to way to break into the expensive industry and offer competitive premiums, according to Michael Yang, a managing partner at OMERS Ventures investment company.
“Insurance is very capital intensive to get going,” Yang said. “Ultimately, you need capital for a rainy day.