Mario Schlosser isn't a guy who likes to fly blind.
But when he and his wife were expecting a baby in 2012, that's what he had to do. The computer scientist and Harvard Business School graduate found it nearly impossible to learn which hospitals in New York were the best or which obstetrician they should use.
He had two options: He could either complain, or he and some colleagues could launch a health insurance company organized to fuse data and health care forever.
"About 20 percent of your income goes to health care, and no one was really there to explain how any of this works," said Schlosser, CEO and co-founder of health-care start-up Oscar. "It's an excellent system in pockets, but the coordination isn't there.''
Four years later Schlosser's other baby, Oscar, is a health insurer that's net insurance-premium revenue remains well below its valuation, but it is among the best-known and largest start-ups attempting to prove that the employer health-care plan model and delivery is unsustainable.
The New York City–based company, No. 17 on the 2016 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, has raised $738.9 million in venture capital at a valuation of $2.7 billion, according to PitchBook.
The biggest change is one that Oscar itself didn't set in motion: Its chances rely heavily on whether President Obama's Affordable Care Act gradually breaks the link between where people work and where they get health insurance, prompting an ever-rising percentage of people to buy coverage themselves. Since Oscar isn't targeting the group insurance market dominated by giants like UnitedHealth Group, Humana, Cigna and Aetna, the ACA is the mega-disruption on which its own ambitions ultimately depend.