Are Oscar Health Plans Really Better?
by John Hansen
Oscar health insurance claims to offer better plans, better health care and a better experience for their members. Basic question… Is this true? Obviously, that may depend on who you are comparing them to.
So… Let’s discuss these three bold claims that you can find on the home page of the Oscar website.
- Better Plans
- Better Health Care
- Better Experience
#1 in Customer Assistance Technology
We would rank Oscar as #1 with regard to customer-service technology. Their user-experience on the web and on their phone app is pretty incredible, simple and intuitive.
However, when it comes to physician-information software, the Kaiser Permanente California electronic medical records systems is hard to beat. EPO’s like Oscar and PPO’s like Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield have nothing that can compare.
Does Oscar really have better health insurance plans?
Their medical coverage has deductibles, copays, coinsurance, pricing for doctor/hospital visits, etc. just like everyone else.
So, when it comes to basic benefits, in many ways they are just another health plan.
However, they shine in two main areas:
- Bells and whistles
What does my health plan cover? If you’re an Oscar Health Care member, likely you know. Oscar is incredibly great at communicating to their members about incurance coverage benefits in a way that’s easy to understand.
They use simple language. They have great design and lots of white space. You can find what you want easily. And, when you find it, it makes sense.
Plus they offer some other bells and whistles that other plans do not. They include free doctors visits, free doctor phone calls, free generic drugs and free routine and preventative care.
But what about the quality of their health care?
Now, we’re talking doctors, specialists, hospitals, emergency, urgent care, etc.
Many of the doctors and medical groups offered by Oscar are the same as you would get with an Anthem Blue Cross or a Blue Shield of California health plan. It’s the same deal. You’re searching online to choose physicians. You may get a good doctor. You may get a bad one.
However, Oscar aims to improve your health care by giving you incredibly simple tools that help you quickly and easily find the health care services you need. Like with the Blues, you can find physicians near you. But with Oscar, you can also find out average costs for the services you need as well as why types of patients they typically service.
So, do they really have better doctors and physicians? That really depends on your region and the doctors and medical groups they have contracted with in your area. However, often Oscar networks are just as good as (and sometimes better than) Anthem Blue Cross of California and Blue Shield.
Oscar is also usually cheapter than Blue Cross/Blue Shield. So if you’re debating between Oscare and one of the Blues, we’d recommend Oscar in most cases.
However, don’t forget that Oscar is an EPO, not a PPO. That means they don’t offer out-of-network coverage. If you want to use out-of-network doctors, then you’ll likely need to go with an Anthem, Blue Shield or maybe a Health Net PPO.
How is Oscar for customer experience?
In short, they’re really good. When it comes to member experience, Oscar is possibly the best in the health care industry right now. They are consumer focused, and their members love them.
Oscar has a 97% satisfaction rate. Also, their net promoter score, which tells how likely the member is to recommend Oscar to their neighbor, is higher than Kaiser Permanente in California.
Oscar does attract a different clientelle than Kaiser Permanente. Oscar members tend to be more tech-savvy and affluent. Also, Oscar is an EPO and Kaiser is an HMO. These factors may affect their satisfaction scores.
Keep in mind that Oscar currently has only 5,000 members in California. As their membership grows, we’ll see if their consumer ratings continue to be higher than Kaiser Permanente, California’s leading HMO.
90% of the phone calls that the Oscar customer service department receives are answered in 30 seconds or less. The California Sales Leader at Oscar Health Insurance, Dennis Negron, commented, “This is actually upsetting to us. We want to be at 95%.”
Negron added that the health insurance company is “high technology and high touch”. Not that the consumers have to be super smart with technology, but that Oscar has incredible technology that makes their website and phone app intuitive and easy to use even for people who are not tech-savvy.
Just how easy is it? Once you’re logged into your account, you can enter whatever you want into a search box and the website will help you find the health care you need.
Also, in one click of a button, you can get a doctor to call you for free. Doctors usually call within 10 minutes, but they have up to an hour to call you. They can give you advice by phone. They can give you prescriptions and even contact your nearest pharmacy so you can just go pick up your medications.
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