Alphabet-backed Clover Health is cutting tech jobs after realizing it needs more health-care experts

Health, Fitness & Food

Clover Health, an Alphabet-backed health insurer, has long emphasized its commitment to technology to help predict when its members are likely to get sick so the company can intervene before that happens.

But as Clover grows to serve more people, the company is realizing it needs a different kind of expertise, and is focused on people with a background in health insurance and clinical care.

Clover, which has offices in New Jersey and Silicon Valley, is slashing a quarter of its workforce, representing about 140 employees, according to a spokesperson. The job cuts were originally reported by the Wall Street Journal. Clover serves the Medicare Advantage market, providing insurance to seniors across seven states, including South Carolina, New Jersey and Tennessee.

“As Clover enters this new era of growth, we are restructuring some teams in recognition of our need for deep Medicare Advantage skill sets to continue propelling us forward to fully achieve our mission of improving every life,” the company said.

Clover said that it’s opening an office in Nashville, Tennessee, to recruit health talent from the many health-care companies in the area. San Francisco, where Clover has historically focused its hiring alongside New Jersey, is primarily a hotbed of product managers and software engineers.

“We need to ensure that our focus, the skills of our teams and our cost structure match our mission,” it added.

Clover, which was started in 2012 and has raised just shy of $1 billion, previously struggled to meet its customer needs, prompting the company to hire a number of new executives last year. It’s since staffed up more in health care, with hires like Shea Helmle, formerly of the health insurer Florida Blue, and Kim Mullins, a longtime health consultant.

“These venture-backed health insurance start-ups are realizing that they do need health-care experience, as it’s one of the most complicated, regulated, nuanced parts of the economy,” said Ari Gottlieb, a principal at A2 Strategy Group, which specializes in health insurance. “They’re competing with the established health plans, which can also invest in tech.”

Other venture-backed health plans include Oscar Health, also backed by Alphabet, as well as Devoted Health and Bright Health, which are run by veteran health care executives. Anthem, meanwhile, just hired the former head of Google search to help run its artificial intelligence team.

Here’s the full statement from Clover:

Clover Health is in an incredibly strong position, having gone through a recent fundraise as well as adding 35% more members to our popular Medicare Advantage plans in the last 12 months. We have made enormous strides in the last year, leveraging our data platform to drive improved clinical decision making at the point of care for our members.

As Clover enters this new era of growth, we are restructuring some teams in recognition of our need for deep Medicare Advantage skill sets to continue propelling us forward to fully achieve our mission of improving every life. To add increasing value to our members’ lives and continue building a sustainable business, we need to ensure that our focus, the skills of our teams and our cost structure match our mission.

Around 140 current employees will be laid off as part of this process. We are immensely grateful for their contributions – we couldn’t have gotten this far without them. But to get Clover to the next level, we need a team that includes new staff with different skills and experience. Clover continues hiring top talent to help fuel our growth and will be opening a new office in Nashville to better tap into the pool of healthcare expertise located in the area.

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