Major tech firm invests $32.5m in insurance start-up

Google’s parent company Alphabet has made an insurance start-up its first major investment since forming in August.

Google’s parent company Alphabet has made an insurance start-up its first major investment since forming in August.

The creation of Alphabet has separated Google’s traditional search business with the tech business’s more speculative investments in areas such as health and smart cities.

The new company has now announced that its first investment will a $32.5m investment in US health insurer Oscar, which offers a consumer-driven tech-led approach to insurance.

Oscar boasts more than 40,000 patients across New York and New Jersey and offers features such as the ability to connect with a doctor by phone, view medical history in a social media-like feed and policy-integrated wearable devices.

Sriram Visiwanath, CEO at US healthcare analytics firm Accordion Health, told Gigaom: “I think Oscar is a starting point for a huge change in health care.

“[We share the same] goal of making health plan risk management way more operationally, financially efficient, consumer-driven and UX-centric.”

Oscar is attempting to distinguish itself from more traditional competitors in the way people purchase and interact with their healthcare by pairing technology with a simple and intuitive user experience.

With the average customer paying $5,000 per year for the service, Oscar is unusual in the US health insurance sector as it is focused on enrolling individuals rather than employers.