Will more providers make a splash into insurance business?

There may be an upward trend of health systems making a splash into the health insurance business.

Earlier this month, Greensboro-based Cone Health entered the health insurance market by obtaining a license that allows the system to offer insurance plans, reported the Triad Business Journal. It's possible now that other health systems in the Triad region of North Carolina--which includes Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point--may follow suit.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is in fine shape to do just that. It already has a joint venture with Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System called MedCost, noted the article. MedCost dishes out plans for companies that are self-insured. The companies then, in turn, pay for the coverage while MedCost manages the claims.

On top of that, Wake Forest Baptist is making strides to promote value-based care by teaming up with other health systems to create accountable care organizations. Wake Forest Baptist has the right components in place--but it needs to connect MedCost's administrative structure, among other things, in order to start offering insurance plans.

"Right now, there is so much heavy lifting involved in the further development of infrastructure, and we're really focused on using MedCost as a vehicle," Wake Forest Baptist CEO John McConnell, M.D., said in the article. "We have dramatically limited the inflation rate of our own health plan as much as any other organization in the state."

Elsewhere, New York-based North-Shore LIJ has made leaps and bounds to enter the insurance market. It began a partnership with The Cleveland Clinic and started its own insurance company called CareConnect, reported Capital New York. LIJ is also the only private system in New York to offer health insurance on the state's individual exchange.

Should more health systems start selling plans, insurers possibly could be eliminated from the process, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Last year, former White House healthcare adviser Ezekiel Emanual warned of the potential "Kaiserification" of healthcare, referring to Kaiser Permanente's integrated healthcare model that combines an insurer with a hospital. It's plausible that insurers as we know them may ceast to exist, Emanuel noted. 

For more:
- here's the Triad Business Journal article
- check out the Capital New York piece