Recent mergers may hurt, not help, care coordination

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The recently announced deals which could blur the lines between insurers and care providers—including the $66 billion purchase of Aetna by CVS Health and UnitedHealth’s Optum paying $4.9 billion for DaVita Medical Group—may not deliver the kind of “disruption” healthcare needs, Commonwealth Fund president David Blumenthal, MD, MPP wrote in Harvard Business Review.

The hope is when these new partnerships assume financial responsibility for the care they provide. The CVS-Aetna combination, Blumenthal wrote, would have to form relationships with or acquire larger providers like hospital or specialty clinics and then manage physicians or health care professionals.

“By adding another player to our already-fragmented health care system, the CVS-Aetna project could actually undermine coordination of services,” he wrote. “And while better care for complex patients is clearly part of the solution to our cost and quality problems, it may not be the systemic disruption that some are hoping for.”

The Optum-DaVita deal, however, may provide the kind of care coordination achieved by providers which also own health plans, like Kaiser Permanente and Intermountain Healthcare.

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