Insurance-primary care hybrid Harken Health will shut down

Harken Health clinic
Harken Health had hoped to create a primary care-focused business model that could succeed on the ACA exchanges. (Harken Health)

Harken Health, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth that combined insurance and primary care, is closing its doors.

Harken plans to shutter its clinics in Illinois and Georgia, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune. The move follows a September decision to pull out of those states' Affordable Care Act exchanges for 2017. Harken had also previously canceled plans to expand its reach into southern Florida. 

The company will continue to cover its individual members through the end of the year, and will also continue to serve members enrolled in its employer group insurance plans through the end of those contracts. About three-quarters of its business was based in Illinois as of the end of last year, the Tribune reported.

Harken had built a unique business model that emphasized “relationship-based” primary care. Its clinics included health coaches and wellness offerings like yoga and meditation. Its insurance plans were built around those health centers, and also connected patients with a variety of specialists.

Harken also had remained in the ACA exchanges even after its parent company pulled back, and some experts suggested it may hold the key to a successful business model for the individual market.

“We fundamentally believe people deserve to be cared for,” Krista Nelson, co-founder and vice president of strategy for Harken, said in a previous interview with FierceHealthcare. “And if Harken can offer a very different relationship-based primary care experience, we can actually help support people in that care and in that care journey.”