Walmart (WMT) is in talks with Humana (HUM) about a relationship enhancement, possibly an acquisition. The two already know how to work together in alliances (narrow pharmacy network, marketing collaborations, points programs). If a new structure is needed, WMT and HUM must be considering a major expansion of scope or a set of operating models where contributions are difficult to attribute and reward (e.g. joint asset builds). What is on their minds? Beyond any interim incremental moves, what could be the endgame?
Catching convergence fever
Horizontal combinations among the top five health plans have arguably reached the regulatory “permissible envelope.” But provider combinations continue apace, enhancing ability to execute on value-based care to be sure, but also increasing negotiation leverage relative to payers. Further, Amazon’s (AMZN) interest in healthcare is gaining momentum but the specific goals are still mysterious, leaving many incumbents to imagine red laser dots are on their foreheads.
Accordingly, health plans are seeking defensible terrain in convergence combinations: CS & Aetna (CVS-AET), Cigna & Express Scripts (CI-ESRX), Anthem’s PBM insourcing and growing attention to CareMore (United Healthgroup [UNH] has been ahead of the curve as usual: but their recent SCA and DaVita medical group acquisitions have clarified for the market the scope of its ambitions for OptumCare). Of course, each of these moves just contributes to the uncertainty about the new competitive paradigm, driving more land grabs in response. I view the WMT-HUM discussions as part of these developments.
Jessica DaMassa asks me about digital health funding, Walmart and PillPack, Blockchain and my sweater — not in that order, but all in less than 2 minutes. Bonus–Farzad Mostashari’s bow tie makes a twitter appearance! — Matthew Holt
For Episode 14, Jessica DaMassa asks me all the questions she can about health & technology in 2 minutes. On the docket today, Walmart & Humana, MyFitnessPal’s huge data breach, and Apple in health tech (again!)–Matthew Holt
Did Aetna just pull a nasty, Trump-like move and up the ante on the Obamacare debate in advance of the election and exchange open enrollment for 2017?
The allegation is that the company withdrew from 11 state insurance exchange marketplaces for 2017 after the Justice Department failed to heed Aetna’s warning that it would do so if Justice didn’t approve its $37 billion purchase of Humana. The Justice Department announced last month that it was challenging that deal and Anthem’s proposed merger with Cigna, saying both deals threaten to sharply reduce competition in the health insurance marketplace.
A July 2016 letter from Aetna to Justice, unearthed by Huffington Post, contains the threat. But in announcing its exchange pullback this past week, Aetna made no mention of the letter and insisted its action was prompted by existing and expected future financial losses in the exchanges.
How does a corporate behemoth heavily invested in the transaction-based health care system of today make the shift to engaging with its 20 million+ customers about their health in new and deeper ways? Humana’s new CEO Bruce Broussard sees technology as key to successfully meeting this challenge.
The company does a good part of its $39 million annual business in one of the health system’s status quo areas: providing medical benefit plans to employer groups.
In his October 1st keynote at the Seventh Annual Health 2.0 2013 Fall Conference, Broussard will share some thoughts from the executive suite about the role Humana envisions for itself as part of health care’s future. Health 2.0 co-founder Matthew Holt recently chatted with Broussard about Humana’s plans.
Matthew Holt: Humana has been looking to get involved in the new changes in health care as a whole. I know you’ve been surveying the role of new information technologies and tools in recent months.
What kinds of things are you seeing? What has most surprised you about the possibilities?
Bruce Broussard: The informational tools that are coming out are pretty powerful. I’d categorize them as allowing individuals and companies like Humana to educate and motivate individuals, and to gain easier access to providers and to more timely treatments.
When we look at the new tools coming out, I think these are going to greatly improve health care in multiple ways.
Increasingly, the health care community is experimenting to see if managing the health of a defined population – say diabetics – improves their health and also reduces the cost of health care or its rise over time. In other words, the healthcare profession seeks to determine if value can displace volume (our fee-for-service tradition) in delivering medical services. Humana’s first-of-its-kind, two-year pilot health-and-wellness program may provide some welcome answers.
A unique factor of the Team Up 4 Health program reflects its participants – hundreds of residents in Bell County, Kentucky (population: 28,750). Statistics show that its population bears a high incidence of preventable chronic illnesses. One-third of the county’s adults are obese and one-in-eight has Type 2 diabetes.
Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), health insurers are scrambling to reinvent themselves for a new era. In an earlier post, I quoted Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini as saying he wants to create a business model that makes sense under the new rules and regulations. In a recent speech Bertolini explained, “We need to move the system from underwriting risk to managing populations. We want to have a different relationship with the providers, physicians and hospitals we do business with.”
Starting with Aetna, this analysis will examine the ways that insurance companies are trying to reinvent themselves for a reformed health care delivery system that often wonders why we need health insurers at all.
Early this year, Aetna decided to evolve “’from an insurance carrier to a health solutions company.” ”The head of brand and consumer marketing at Aetna stated, “’More and more, the end consumer is who we need to focus on.’” Aetna has developed Care Pass Platform, an agnostic tool that all consumers can use to aggregate and organize their fitness, medical, insurance and nutrition data. Aetna is also partnering with Medicity to provide smartphone apps for providers and iTriage to provide apps for consumers.