HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, finds that WellPoint Inc.'s recent acquisition of WellChoice Inc. cements WellChoice's dominant healthcare market position in the TriState area. According to the latest issue of TriState Health Plan Analysis from HealthLeaders-InterStudy, this move typifies the area's rapidly consolidating managed care market.
"I would certainly look for more acquisitions and mergers in this market," said Micaela Brown, HealthLeaders-InterStudy analyst. "For example, two large local insurers, Group Health and HIP, are merging, creating the largest health plan in New York. But that combined company will be a tempting acquisition target for United, which also recently bought Oxford."
The combined WellPoint-WellChoice company could erode UnitedHealthCare and Oxford Health Plan's business. WellChoice owns Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, New York State's largest health plan. In Connecticut, WellPoint owns Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Connecticut, the state's largest HMO and PPO.
The merger would also put the squeeze on three other national plans that have been trying to gain a solid foothold in the area -- Health Net Inc., Aetna Inc., and CIGNA HealthCare. Several regional insurers have already made a pre-emptive strike by acquiring other local plans or expanding into states like New Hampshire and Vermont.
The WellPoint-WellChoice deal cements WellPoint's position as the nation's largest health insurer, ahead of second place UnitedHealth Group. The combined company would serve 33 million people across the country, far more than United's 23.3 million insurance members.
Other health plan news in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut: * Medicare activity is going to heat up with the Sept. 23 announcements by CMS such as Aetna's new regional PPO in New Jersey and UnitedHealthcare's new regional PPO in New York. * Health Net is introducing a new pay-for-performance program for physicians in Connecticut. * In New Jersey, Aetna is piloting electronic prescribing with 1,000 of its physicians. About HealthLeaders-InterStudy
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