Humana becomes third big insurer to leave AHIP

Humana building
Despite Humana's decision to leave the trade group, "we remain a strong organization,” an AHIP spokeswoman said. (Humana)

Humana has become the third major U.S. health insurer to cut ties with the industry’s largest trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Spokeswoman Kristine Grow confirmed that the insurer parted ways with AHIP starting in 2018, saying: “Humana communicated that this decision was made for business reasons as opposed to anything related to policy or the direction of the organization.”

Indeed, the move comes amid speculation that Humana may soon be acquired by either a fellow insurer or a retail-and-pharmacy giant like Walgreens or Walmart—the latter a likely reaction to CVS’ proposed acquisition of Aetna. If Humana is preparing for a deal with a noninsurer, it may make sense for it to cut ties with an insurer-focused trade group. 

For Humana's part, spokesman Alex Kepnes said in an emailed statement that the insurer "has not actively participated in AHIP since early 2017."

"Our focus continues to be on improving the healthcare of the millions of Americans we serve through our growing clinical platform and deeper integration with doctors and other healthcare professionals," he wrote.

Humana’s defection from AHIP comes after two of its fellow “big five” publicly traded health insurers have also cut ties with the group. UnitedHealth was the first to do so back in 2015, and Aetna followed suit months later. 

UnitedHealth said at the time that it believed AHIP’s diverse member population limited its advocacy focus and thus no longer best represented the company’s interests. Aetna was more vague, saying “we will continue to partner with groups that are working, as we are, toward expanding access to high-quality, affordable healthcare.”

As for AHIP, Grow said that while it lost Humana, the trade group added 12 new members last year. 

“We remain a strong organization,” she said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include comment from a Humana spokesman.