There has been a flurry of activity among the health insurance companies positioning for a bigger share of the Medicare market. There have been two sales announced: Aetna purchasing Humana and Centene purchasing HealthNet. Anthem's attempt to buy Cigna is still in play. And last month, Target said it will sell its pharmacy space to CVS Health.
For Medicare beneficiaries who have plans with any of these companies or use Target pharmacies, there is no immediate impact. Look for finalization of the sale in 2016. For those with Medicare plans through the insurance companies look for changes potentially in 2016 when the Annual Enrollment period rolls out Oct. 15. But past mergers have seen the companies slow to move to consolidation and instead run as separate companies for several years before the brand name and benefits change.
It is too early to tell what the changes will mean to benefits or premiums of plans the companies offer. But it is good reason to watch announcements from your carrier about changes in the monthly premium or benefits. And check carefully during the annual enrollment period for changes in your prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plans.
Here's a run down of the announced sales and links to more information from the companies.
CVS Pharmacy and Target – Target and CVS Health agreed to a deal where CVS would take over all the pharmacies in the 1700 Target retail stores. The deal has not been finalized and the transition is not expected to begin until at least second quarter of 2016.
Advice to Clients: If you use a Target pharmacy for your prescriptions, there is no need to change anything at this point. You will be notified by your drug plan insurance company if there is an impact on your network in 2016. More information
Aetna and Humana –Aetna has agreed to acquire Humana. This transaction is expected to give Aetna over 14 million new members and create the company serving the most seniors in the Medicare Advantage program and the second largest U.S. managed care company. Aetna does not expect the sale to close until the second half of 2016. More information: AetnaHumana.TransactionAnnouncement.com
Advice to Clients: The companies will remain separate until after the sale is closed and if they follow other purchases, there will be a transition period before customers see any changes. So no changes in the short run. If you have a plan from one of these insurance companies, you will be notified by them of any changes.
HealthNet and Centene – Centene has agreed to purchase HealthNet. The deal is expected to close in early 2016. Centene is a company that specializes in the Medicaid market. The press release indicates that they are purchasing HealthNet for its Medicare products and footprint in the West.
Advice to Clients: It is not clear at this point what action Centene will take regarding HealthNet products. We encourage our Medicare supplement customers to watch their rates closely and if they see significant rate increases to contact Longevity Alliance to see if there are better rates available from other companies. More information
Cigna and Anthem - Discussion continue between these two companies with the potential for Anthem to purchase Cigna.