Aetna's $37 billion Humana deal driven by value-based care push

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Value-based care and increased enrollment in Aetna's Medicare Advantage program figure to be two of the biggest winners thanks to the insurance giant's recently announced $37 billion acquisition of competitor Humana.

The merger, which was announced in a joint statement July 3, pushes the organization into the top three health plans in the U.S., and increases Aetna's Medicare Advantage membership to 4.4 million seniors. Adding more seniors to its portfolio was a critical driver for Aetna's acquisition, industry, experts say, since Medicare will shift 50% of its dollars away from fee-for-service medicine by 2018.

Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini, who will serve as the Chairman and CEO of the combined organization, said in an earnings call earlier this year that value-based contracting makes up around 30% of Aetna's medical spending. The newly combined company aims to bring that figure to 75% by the end of the decade, according to Forbes.

For providers, the shift to value-based care means Medicare payments will eventually be tied to performance, patient health outcomes and other measures managed by insurers like Aetna and Humana.  

“The combination will provide Aetna with an enhanced ability to work with providers and create value-based payment agreements that result in better care to consumers, and spread cutting-edge clinical practices and quality care,” the Aetna statement reads.