4. The spending spree will continue
Aetna recently announced that it has a jaw-dropping $1.3 billion set aside for acquisitions and stock repurchases in 2012. The giant health insurer didn’t provide any clues on what acquisitions it might be looking at, but the health insurance industry as a whole has been on something of a diversification kick, moving away from simply insuring care to the actual delivery of care.
Physician groups, clinics, and even entire health systems have been acquired as health plans seek to manage costs on the clinical side of the health delivery process. Expect more of these deals in 2012.
Health plans are looking for companies that can help them with medical management along the continuum of care. Humana’s recent acquisition of SeniorBridge, which manages care complex chronic care for older patients, is a good example. That will help Humana as it grows its Medicare book of business.
Finally, expect information services and data analysis to grow in importance as health plans try to increase administrative efficiencies while integrating new business lines.