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Kyle Chayka

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The Problem with the “Designification” of Health Care

A wave of service providers and clinics is using catchy branding and interior design to attract patients frustrated with old-guard medical facilities. But is further commodification of health care the answer?

A few years ago I signed up for Oscar health insurance. Cofounded in 2012 by Joshua Kushner and headquartered in New York City, it was the health-care plan most of my similarly freelance friends used. Plus, if you lived in Brooklyn, as I did at the time, you could easily visit its Oscar Center, a primary-care space in a warehouse loft that also boasted the offices of literary magazines. I went in for a checkup, feeling slightly nervous as with any doctor appointment, but was surprised when I opened the door onto a spacious, minimalist, wood-floored, primary-colored office installed with glass walls and snake plants. There was even a yoga room adorned with the decal “Let the Healing Begin.”