Oscar Health has updated its user interface to allow members to input their name, pronouns and gender identity, in a move to be more inclusive of members who identify as transgender or non-binary.
“Since day one, Oscar has been focused on building a system of healthcare that is centered around our members,” CEO Mario Schlosser said in a statement. “While there is still more work to be done, I am proud of our team of engineers who, through our unique full-stack technology, are able to quickly and proficiently meet the needs of our transgender and non-binary members to help them feel both seen and heard.”
In a tool named MyIdentity, Oscar now allows all members to add their first and last name, pronouns and identified gender. The New York City-based insurtech said its team members will use this information when logging into their accounts, and whenever they engage with Oscar providers.
The move comes as the care challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community increasingly catch policymakers and investors’ eyes.
A third of trans individuals avoid seeking healthcare out of fear of discrimination, according to a 2015 study. For those who do enter a doctor’s office, the study said more than 20% are denied care or harassed. A 2016 study found that at least 1.4 million U.S. residents identify as transgender, with that number expected to rise in coming years as attitudes toward gender identity change.
In a move to provide more accurate and compassionate care to this growing population, HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology last week unveiled new standards to allow the electronic exchange of patient data surrounding social determinants of health, sexual orientation and gender identity data.
While the update doesn’t require health professionals to record or share social determinants, sexual orientation or gender identity data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that without this information, “LGBT patients and their specific healthcare needs cannot be identified, the health disparities they experience cannot be addressed, and important healthcare services may not be delivered.”
Meanwhile, venture interest in startups focused on caring for the LGBTQ+ community has also increased.
In late May, Grand Rounds and Doctor on Demand paid an undisclosed sum to acquire Included Health, a startup that offers care navigation services for LGBTQ+ patients through their employers. In February, Plume raised $14 million to provide on-demand hormone replacement therapy, and Folx raised $25 million that same month for the same service.
These companies all claim to empower individuals by offering direct access to hormone replacement therapy from staff versed in the matter, rather than forcing individuals to first request the service through their primary care provider. But the prices of their subscription service have raised the eyebrows of some in the community, with critics claiming that they aim to cash in on underrepresented voices.
Regardless of this debate, Oscar Health could be attempting to differentiate itself from a suite of insurtechs that recently went public through this new update. During the company’s most recent first quarter, Oscar Health’s net loss narrowed 9% year-over-year, with an increase in policy premium revenue squeezing the company’s losses to $87.3 million. The company aims to achieve profitability by 2023.
Oscar Health was co-founded in 2012 by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald Trump. During his tenure, Trump made a number of moves to end protections for LGBTQ+ people seeking healthcare and health insurance.