The health insurance industry appears to be watching Connecticut-based Aetna's every move after speculation arose last week that the insurer may make an offer to acquire either Humana or Cigna.
While industry analysts claim a deal is "imminent," here are three important factors to keep in mind:
Mum's the word. Following an Aetna investor meeting, analyst Ana Gupte of Leerink Partners said she would not be surprised if a consolidation were to occur, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. However, none of the three insurers have issued a statement regarding the acquisition, according to Becker's Hospital Review. Additionally, spokesmen for Aetna, Humana and Cigna said Friday that their respective companies do not comment on market speculation, reported the Hartford Courant.
Harmful to Hartford. If Hartford-based Aetna acquires Bloomfield-based Cigna, the result could damage Hartford's economy, noted the Courant. A merger of two very similar insurers in the same region may lead to large-scale layoffs that ultimately would force people to find jobs at other companies and in other states, Robert B. Lamb, a professor of management at New York University's Stern School of Business told the Courant. While the deal is just talk at the moment, Connecticut should begin strategizing as if such an acquisition were to occur, noted Nick Perna, an economist who taught at Yale University.
Time to get digital. Aetna, Humana and Cigna all have strong digital health platforms. But after Aetna decided to shut down its CarePass mobile platform last year, the insurer's latest ventures focus less on preventive measures such as promoting good diet and exercise, reported MobiHealthNews. However, if Aetna buys either Humana or Cigna, the question at hand is whether the insurer will be interested in taking another stab at preventive health--which is how both HumanaVitality and Cigna Health Matters operate. If Aetna moves in this direction and focuses its efforts on employee populations, Humana and Cigna both are well-positioned to make this a reality.