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Insurer-Provider Consolidation Coming for Physicians

A FLURRY OF consolidation among medical care providers, retailers and health insurance companies could bring a dramatic shift to how physician practices operate and how patients get their care.

The trend is driven largely by health insurance companies that have been consolidating for years but are now pushing deeper into the provision of healthcare rather than merely paying for it. Thus, health insurers own more than just health plans and therefore are key drivers of medical care provider consolidation as well.

Take UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurance company, which has been gobbling up doctor practices and other primary care operations including urgent care and surgery centers via its Optum Health services business.

Meanwhile, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, Elevance Health, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states including Wisconsin and Indiana, in January announced plans to buy Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. Elevance is also acquiring more healthcare providers and services and last year created a new business called Carelon to house and coordinate its medical providers for contracting. Read more here. 

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