Cigna's recent acquisition of Alegis Care, which focuses on homebound healthcare for the very frail, is yet another sign that payers are becoming increasingly comfortable crossing into provider territory to play a proactive role in reducing the cost of healthcare for their members.
It also puts Cigna on the frontline of what one consultant calls the "chronic care management arms race" as payers look to save money in the treatment of their frailest members by increasing the focus on prevention and management.
"These are among the costliest patients to serve," said Shawn Morris, the president of development and innovation for Cigna-HealthSpring in a statement released by the company. It is estimated that these patients drive 35% to 50% of total healthcare costs.
Alegis Care physicians make house calls and deliver medical care to chronically ill and elderly Medicaid and Medicare patients who are unable to travel to their regular physician's office. Services include transitional care from hospital to home, targeted chronic care management, and comprehensive health assessment.
Cigna, as well as WellPoint and Humana, has made turnkey acquisitions to help reduce the cost of care for this population. When WellPoint made the deal for CareMore Health Group, it acquired 25 healthcare clinics where physicians and other healthcare professionals specialize in delivering care coordination and intensive treatment to the chronically ill. Humana acquired SeniorBridge, a national network of care managers who provide in-home healthcare management and services for seniors.