Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Industry Consolidation

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Oct• 31•11

Last year, I mentioned how ACO requirements will lead to more industry consolidation.  A recent article by the Economist is finding that my prediction is becoming a reality.

“Cigna, an insurer based in Connecticut, said it would pay $3.8 billion for HealthSpring, which offers services and insurance to the elderly. It is the latest deal to extend insurers’ tentacles into new areas of health care.”

State Health Exchanges will come into effect in 2014 and will extend health insurance to more people.  Individuals who cannot afford health insurance will receive subsidies.  The Economist cites a Boston Consulting Group study which estimates that firms’ revenues will more than double by 2019 to $1.2 trillion.  Profits margins, however, may fall due to a new taxes, minimum benefit standards, and more regulation of premiums appears.

What will plans do about it?

Many are diversifying.  They are moving into the Medicaid market where States outsource the health care provision of their enrollees to insurers or Medicare Advantage where the federal government is doing the same.  Insurers like Aetna are investing in health IT companies; UnitedHealth Group’s IT business (OptumInsight) makes up a large share of their revenues.

Industry consolidation can increase care coordination, but also reduces competition.  The effect on premiums and quality remains to be seen.

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One Comment

  1. The market is too immature to compete on value, but not so on price and access. Care coordination is essential. Enrollees will vote with their feet, choosing simplified, personalized, affordable care management over risky, arduous, expensive and less-than-essential services as they learn that health care can harm their health. Plans will adapt with lower cost benefits for these more prudent, less-than-frequent flyers.

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