Commentary: Aetna’s acquisition of Humana has the health care industry poised for disruption. The $37 billion deal is part of Aetna’s strategy to drive consumer-focused, high-value health care. This transaction also significantly helps Aetna serve the post-65 retiree market by leveraging Humana’s strength in the Medicare Advantage market which, according to an Aetna press release, will include 4.4 million members.

Forbes predicted the combined companies could create a PBM which would sever the relationship that Aetna has maintained with CVS. There is fear that the continued consolidation within the health care market will stifle competition and drive up premiums. Barron’s predicted that the Aetna-Humana deal may never be consummated due to antitrust concerns. Aetna is also digesting the acquisition of bswift, which provides an enrollment technology platform for health insurance exchanges and employers, which helps Aetna execute on its consumerism strategy. A joint press release from Aetna and Humana promotes the company’s ability “to offer a broad choice of affordable, consumer-centric health care products.” 

Also see: Employers to see pros, cons from Aetna, Humana merger

Rhonda Marcucci, a partner with Gruppo Marcucci who has consulted extensively with carriers, providers, and brokers in the private exchange space, believes that “the continued rising costs in the health care system will not stop until consumers put pressure on the market by being better consumers, and we’re not ready yet.”

The continued evolution of the health care market makes an already confusing process even more complex for the average person. We can expect continued demand for high quality services to help all constituents (employers, employees, individuals, and retirees) maximize their investments in health care. We can also expect continued disruption and innovation in the market.

Allen Niemynski is a senior consultant with Businessolver, a benefits administration technology and services firm. Follow him on Twitter @HCM_Allen and on his blog.

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