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Start up, CO-OP insurers are expanding into new markets


The competition continues to heat up within the insurance industry and the health insurance exchanges as start-up companies and consumer operated and oriented plans (CO-OPs) are doing so well that they're expanding into new markets.

For example, start-up Oscar Insurance, which already covers 16,000 members in New York and has been widely praised for its innovative methods, will be selling plans in New Jersey as well, reported Live Insurance News.

Oscar stands to be a "disruptive carrier" because of its technology-friendly, mobile approach and emphasis on engaging consumers, Heather Howard, director of the State Health Reform Assistance Network at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, told NJ Spotlight.

"It seems like they have really more of a direct-to-consumer, direct-to-patient type of strategy," reaching out to younger consumers who are comfortable using a mobile application to track their health data, added Linda Schwimmer, vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.

And Maine Community Health Options will offer coverage in New Hampshire's exchange. The CO-OP enrolled 83 percent of the 44,000 consumers who signed up through the exchange last year--despite competing against big insurers like Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Because of that success, Maine Community CEO Kevin Lewis said federal officials granted the insurer a $67 million loan to expand into New Hampshire. "The strengths of our existing business probably helped us get the additional funding."

To learn more:
- read the Live Insurance News article
- see the NJ Spotlight article
- check out the Portland Press Herald article

Related Articles:
Why insurers should approach product development like start-ups
6 trends that took the spotlight at AHIP Institute 14
Oscar Insurance: Reinventing consumers' online experience
Small, startup insurers hope to compete on exchanges
More insurers will enter the marketplace next year
CO-OPs attain lopsided success