Consolidation is the prevailing theme in the Worcester market, with both payers and providers seeking merger partners to expand and remain competitive. In the provider sector, UMass Memorial Health Care plans to expand through the acquisition of Harrington Health Care System, one of the market’s few remaining independent health systems. In the payer sector, Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care are seeking to merge in a deal that could shake up product design, insurance premiums, and contracting. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting all healthcare sectors. Payers report increasing profits due to sharp declines in expensive, elective procedures during the pandemic. On the other hand, as COVID-19 cases rise, the decrease in elective and nonurgent patient volume is challenging providers financially. Worcester is a rich environment for value-based care, though the pandemic may set back payment reform efforts.

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