It has been widely rumored that the Kentucky based insurer, Humana, is ripe for a transaction. Fueling the speculation is Humana’s poor performance of their public exchange products, suppressing profitability in the past year. Coupled with their significant Medicare Advantage members, they become an attractive target for the remaining national players. Anthem would be the most logical suitor since they have publicly stated their intent to beef up their presence in the Medicare space, however CIGNA and Aetna have also been mentioned.
Like the health insurers, the providers are joining up to increase their bargaining leverage. We are already seeing a rapid change in the way providers are paid. The shift from pay-for-service, to pay-for-performance, will change the way Americans access healthcare. I can picture the day when a doctor asks you to complete a questionnaire and opts not to treat a patient with poor compliance because their compensation might be impacted.
What does this mean to the consumer? As this chess game plays out, the ripples in healthcare have started to become seismic shifts in the landscape. Fewer players will likely accelerate the pace of change. And it is difficult to predict which way the pendulum will go since, through all the change, costs are not under control. Single-payer will likely, once again, rear its ugly head. Be careful. The devil we have may be a better option.