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The CEO of Oscar Health Is Disrupting The Healthcare System

The CEO of Oscar Health Is Disrupting The Healthcare System

Mario Schlosser, CEO of Oscar Health, believes that having more knowledge and options when it comes to health insurance will change the entire health care system for the better.

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Before Mario Schlosser started the New York City-headquartered health insurance company Oscar Health with Josh Kushner (Jared Kushner’s brother) in 2012, they co-founded — and he was fired from — a social video-game company, Vostu, headquartered in Buenos Aires.

The once-booming start-up Vostu, replete with scooters, a cafeteria and copious white boards, was toppled by a copyright infringement lawsuit by gaming company Zynga. Employee moral soured and Schlosser was ousted by the board in 2012.

At the time, the Harvard MBA grad, who left his native Germany in 2001, had a wife who was three months pregnant and he needed to figure out his next venture.

“Josh and I have coffee and Josh says to me, ‘We should start a health insurance company. That’s a crazy stupid, stupid industry that’s nobody’s innovated in. Let’s do that,’” Schlosser tells CNBC Make It in November.

Schlosser agreed to noodle on the idea, despite his own skepticism.

At the time, I was trying to do three or four things: I was trying to write a data science textbook with a friend of my from my Stanford days [Schlosser was a visiting fellow in computer science there], we were going to do something around the 2012 election, trying to launch a debit card in Brazil, as well and trying to start [an] insurance company,” Schlosser, now 40, tells CNBC Make It. “And the lowest probability I would assign to all of these at the time was certainly starting an insurance company.”

Schlosser underestimated the idea.

The co-founders created Oscar Health to be consumer focused; the company uses technology to make health care more personalized and transparent. For example, Oscar customer can request a call from a doctor through the mobile app 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and every Oscar customer has a “concierge team ” to help coordinate care.

Oscar now offers coverage in New York, California, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee, and will offer coverage in Arizona, Florida and Michigan in 2019. Oscar has 230,000 members (customers who have paid to be covered by Oscar) in 2018, has 1,000 employees, has raised $1.2 billion including a recent $375 million investment from Alphabet, and has a projected revenue of $1 billion dollars for 2018. The current valuation is $3.2 billion, according to private market data company Pitchbook.

Here are five of Schlosser’s best pieces of advice about success, drawn from his experience steering the start-up that has gone from zero to a billion dollars in a complex industry in just a few years.

1. Brace for pain
“My biggest lesson about leadership is that I think nothing worth achieving is without pain. That’s not my quote, but I think is pretty true,” says Schlosser.

2. Capitalize on who you are
Figuring out when to listen to advice and change and when trust your own intuition takes time.

“I sometimes compromised on the way I do things and then sometimes learned that, no, may be the way I did it — with help around it — is the best way to go about leading the company and building the company up,” Schlosser says.

3. Carve out time to think
If you don’t have time to think, you’ll never find good ideas or solutions, says Schlosser.

4. Push yourself to the point of failure
“The sad truth is that there is just no way you are going to do anything useful in life without just taking it on the chin a couple of times,” Schlosser says.

Case in point: Schlosser was ousted by Vostu.

5. Find meaning beyond work
“I am very glad that my wife and I had two kids around the time when Oscar started,” says Schlosser. “It is not just whether my games work, or the new company works, or whatever else, but just having kids and a family to go back to and say, ‘This is something real and something fun to deal with,’ was a huge sort of balancing thing that I had.”

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5 keys to success from the CEO of $3.2 billion healthcare start-up Oscar | CNBC Make It.