Aetna’s planned $37 billion purchase of rival Humana, which would make Aetna the biggest health insurer, would accelerate the consolidation of health systems as hospitals seek more leverage in negotiating with insurers whose increasing size gives them vast negotiating power.
The deal would make Aetna a major player in the surging Medicare Advantage business and would bolster Aetna’s presence in Medicaid and in Tricare coverage for military personnel and their families. But everyone in the healthcare sector would be affected, directly or indirectly, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Modern Healthcare noted that Aetna’s announcement came a day after the Medicaid coverage provider Centene said it would buy fellow insurer Health Net to help Centene expand in the California Medicaid market, the nation’s biggest, and give it a Medicare presence in several other western states.
As private-sector-employer-based insurance has shrunken, the big insurers are expanding into public programs at an ever faster clip.