Humana Inc. holds a strong position in the Medicare Advantage market, but the Louisville, Ky.-based health insurer could run into problems meeting minimum medical-loss ratio requirements in the commercial sector, according to a new report from HealthLeaders-InterStudy. "Humana is a pioneer in the consumer-driven plan movement, and will have opportunities with high-deductible and account-based plans among small employers looking for affordable solutions," said HealthLeaders-InterStudy analyst Rick Byrne. However, the company will need to "prove its consumer-engagement strategy can deliver benefits without skimping on member service," he added.
Apparently reading the tea leaves in a similar manner, Humana has made a move to expand its wellness capabilities and offer members targeted, lifestyle-specific assistance, acquiring Cincinnati-based Hummingbird Coaching Services for an undisclosed amount. Hummingbird uses a science-based online model to provide one-on-one coaching services related to exercise, nutrition, weight management, stress management, smoking cessation, medication adherence, parenting and life coaching. The online delivery platform allows clients to access coaches within 24 hours via e-mail, online journal entries, and instant messaging, as well as by traditional methods, such as telephone-based contact.
"Hummingbird has been a pioneer in scalable, affordable, results-driven coaching capabilities," Patrick Gotcher, president of LifeSynch, Humana's Fort Worth, Texas-based health and well-being subsidiary, told the Business Courier of Cincinnati. "They are right in the middle of the picture of what we are trying to accomplish. I felt it would be an acquisition of the first order in terms of being able to differentiate ourselves."
Humana was a Hummingbird client for a year prior to the acquisition. According to the company's LinkedIn webpage, other clients include Google, Procter & Gamble, Alere/Matria, U.S. Bank, United Biosource and UnitedHealthcare.