October 6, 2023
Health “insurtechs” struggling to stay relevant
“Insurtechs” Clover Health, Oscar Health, and Bright Health all went public in the midst of the hot equity market of 2021. Investors were excited by the fast growth of these health insurer startups, and their potential to revolutionize an industry dominated by a few large players. However, the hype has dissipated as financial performance has deteriorated. After growing at all costs during a period of low interest rates, changing market conditions directed investors to demand a pivot to profitability, which the companies have struggled to deliver—two years later, none of the three has turned a profit. Oscar and Bright have cut back their market presence significantly, while Clover has mostly carried on while sustaining high losses. In the last two years, only Oscar has posted a medical loss ratio in line with other major payers, who meanwhile are reporting expectation-beating profits. While Oscar has shown signs of righting the ship since the appointment of former Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, the future of these small insurers remains uncertain. As their losses mount and they exit markets, they may become less desirable as acquisition targets for large payers.