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Analysis

Anthem Expands Behavioral Health Options With Beacon Purchase

By Jack O'Brien  
   June 06, 2019

The Indianapolis-based health insurer is set to acquire the largest independently-held behavioral health organization in the country.

Anthem, Inc. announced plans to purchase Beacon Health Options, a Boston-based behavioral health organization, in an effort to expand its behavioral health operations Thursday.

Anthem is buying Beacon from Bain Capital Private Equity and Diamond Castle Holdings, bringing the organization under Anthem's Diversified Business Group. The deal is slated to close in Q4 2019.

Beacon serves 36 million individuals and almost 3 million individuals in comprehensive risk-based behavioral programs.

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“With an extensive track record in behavioral health, Beacon fits well with our strategy to better manage the needs of populations with chronic and complex conditions, and deliver integrated whole health solutions," Anthem CEO Gail K. Boudreaux said in a statement. "Together with Beacon, we will enhance our capabilities to serve state partners, health plans and employer groups as they seek to address consumer behavioral health needs.”

Russell C. Petrella, Ph.D., CEO of Beacon Health Options, echoed Boudreaux's sentiments, adding that the Anthem deal will provide Beacon will scale to expand service options.

"Together, we will expand access and enhance the quality of care for our mutual members," Petrella said in a statement. "I am proud of the talented and committed team at Beacon, and we look forward to our future with Anthem.”

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Behavioral health services have become another competitive space among major health insurers in recent years.

One of Anthem's primary competitors, Centene Corp., reported a considerable drop in behavorial health membership under Medicaid during its Q1 earnings report.

"Anthem's acquisition of Beacon demonstrates the health insurance industry’s evolution towards a care model that goes far beyond the historical focus on treating a particular illness or condition," Dean Ungar, vice president of Moody's Investors Service, said in a statement to HealthLeaders on Monday. "There is a growing body of evidence showing that healthcare providers must focus on the whole person, including addressing conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, and even loneliness, in order to lower medical costs over the long term."

Behavioral health services has become a point of interest among employers considering their health plan offerings, with 54% of employers rating it as the most critical care access point in a recent Willis Towers Watson survey.

The majority of employers participating in that survey were from rural areas, where where issues surrounding reliable access to behavioral services remain a prominent issue.  

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a comment from Moody's.

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: Photo credit: Photo credit: Murcia, Spain; Oct 23, 2018: Anthem logo in phone with earnings graphic on background. Anthem, Inc. is an American health insurance company - Image / Editorial credit: Pedro Martinez Valera / Shutterstock.com


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