Oscar, the "Obamacare stock," plunges after going public — it needs the gig economy

Thursday, March 4, 2021 by Snacks

And the Oscar for best NYSE debut goes to... not Oscar. If the Airbnb and DoorDash IPOs were blockbusters, Oscar's IPO was more like a low-key Hulu flick. The Millennial-focused health insurance startup (you can tell by the font), saw its share close down 11% from their IPO price yesterday. Oscar is similar to Lemonade, except Lemonade offers home/renters insurance. Oh, and Lemonade's stock doubled on its first trading day (womp). Both are putting a friendly face on insurance — but Oscar has a harder task.

American health insurance is infamously complex... You could go to med school in the time it takes to understand insurance plans. Oscar's trying to make it simple, affordable, and personal — especially for people who aren't insured through employers. It now has 529K members.

  • How it started: Oscar was cofounded by Josh Kushner in 2013 to complement Obamacare. The founders believed it would thrive on Obamacare exchanges, where people compare and pick plans.
  • How it's going: Not so hot. Oscar's 2020 revenue fell 5% from 2019, and it lost $407M (almost as much as its sales).

Oscar needs "gigification"... It's banking on continued growth of the American gig economy. Its core customers don't have employer insurance. Think: DoorDash drivers, freelance writers, and part-time sitters. Oscar has a few things working in its favor. The gig economy scored a huge victory in November when CA voters said "Yes" to Prop 22. Now, companies like Lyft don't have to reclassify gig drivers as employees, which would've meant providing health insurance. Also: 10M+ Americans are still unemployed, and many are turning to side jobs like food delivery.

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