Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has announced plans this week to invest $375 million in healthcare start-up Oscar Health. This is the “latest big bet on the privatization of Medicare,” writes Bruce Japsen of Forbes.

The investment comes on the heels of Amazon getting into the healthcare game in a big way – both in relation to prescription drugs and in private healthcare.

Oscar Health will use the big tech investment to jump into Medicare Advantage, an increasingly-popular form of health insurance for seniors.

“We will continue to build a member experience that lowers costs and improves care, and to bring Oscar to more people — deepening our expansion into the individual and small business markets while entering a new business segment, Medicare Advantage, in 2020,” said Oscar Health CEO and co-founder Mario Schlosser.

Approximately 20 million individuals are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. But that number is expected to rise significantly – with some estimates putting that projection at as much as 38 million within the next 7 years.

“It’s becoming a crowded field with big establish players like UnitedHealth Group, Humana, Aetna and Cigna while Anthem, Centene and myriad Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans also expand into the MA business,” writes Japsen.

Google’s reach could help ventures like Oscar Health bridge the communication gap that many Medicare enrollees see. In a recent HealthMine survey of Medicare members, just 16% reported that their health plan knows when their health gets better or worse, while 46% report that their plan never communicates with them about their chronic condition. Find out more here.

About The Number

The Number is a timely column from HealthMine highlighting a key statistic that is pertinent to the US health care industry.