As the healthcare industry moves further into a post-reform market, payers and providers continue aligning to form mega health systems. The latest example is HealthPartners, the third largest insurer in Minnesota, merging with health system Park Nicollet Health Services in a deal that will include five hospitals and about $5 billion in annual revenues.
The new payer-provider powerhouse, which represents the largest healthcare merger in the Minneapolis area in more than 10 years, will integrate Park Nicollet's physician network with HealthPartners' insurance plans, combining more than 20,000 employees and 1,500 multispecialty doctors, the Pioneer Press reported.
For HealthPartners, the merger means it can better compete against other giants in the local market, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. "This gives them more of a diversity play than any insurance company in town," Steve Parente, a healthcare economist at the University of Minnesota, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"My sense is this is the first of other types of alliances and partnerships that will occur not just in the Twin Cities but nationally," Parente added, speaking with Minnesota Public Radio.
"This actually sort of is a peek at the future of what a combination of these payers and delivery systems combined is going to look like. And if anything I think it allows this combined unit to be much more effective at what they might've been just on their own agenda -- and could even become more so than they actually are national trend-setters," he said.