Large insurers are buying out smaller ones that are better prepared to serve the elderly and poor.
The largest health insurance companies in the country have been absorbing much smaller ones by the dozen as they prepare for the influx of customers through one of the latest healthcare changes by the government that will allow them to manage the coverage needs for the elderly, poor, and unwell across the country.
So far, approximately 15 states are in the midst of creating their programs for this coverage.
These states are each on their way to coming up with demo programs that would allow managed health insurance companies to provide care for what are being called “dual eligible” patients – that is, those who are enrolled into both the Medicaid program and the Medicare program, at the same tie.
Many different health insurance company acquisitions have occurred over the last while.
Most recently, Aetna released the announcement that it would be purchasing Coventry Health Care, which is already involved in the Medicaid programs in many states. This insurance news was not long after that of WellPoint’s intentions to purchase Amerigroup, which is an insurer with a Medicaid focus. Similarly, in 2011, Cigna made its own announcement regarding its purchase of HealthSpring, which is already serving 122,000 customers who are dually eligible.
The primary risk that could be faced at some point down the road, is the future of around 9 million elderly, poor, and sick Americans who are currently costing the state and federal governments over $300 billion per year. The debate that is currently being faced is whether these health insurance company mergers will be improving or harming the ability to save money while providing better care to these people.
Some consumer advocates are voicing concerns regarding the eagerness that these health insurance companies are showing as they snatch up so many smaller insurers in order to serve the dual eligible patients. They are worried that as larger companies take hold of a larger amount of control, their accountability will begin to slide. Therefore, say the consumer advocates, while the customers do have benefits to which they are legitimately entitled, many will find themselves facing delays or even being denied with no opportunity to put things right.