By Sy Mukherjee
March 27, 2019

Hello and happy hump day, readers.

It would appear that the health care consolidation trend is here to stay.

On Wednesday, health insurer Centene (#61 on the most recent Fortune 500 list and an enthusiastic believer in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces) announced plans to snatch up rival WellCare in a deal valued at more than $15 billion before debt.

“With the addition of WellCare, we expect to bolster and diversify our product offerings, increase our scale and have access to new markets, which will in turn, enable us to continue investing in technology and better serve members with innovative programs designed to meet their needs,” said Centene CEO Michael Neidorff in a statement.

That means that Centene (if the deal clears) will be getting significantly bigger. But the health insurance and benefits manager market itself will continue to get smaller after the corporate marriage, with even more power concentrated among a few major players.

Consider the giants recently produced by the CVS-Aetna deal, the Cigna-Express Scripts deal, UnitedHealth’s massive reach across its Optum and traditional insurance units, among other recent health care M&A. Health care companies are leveraging vertical and horizontal integration strategies alike, snapping up firms that are in their own business and at different links in the supply chain alike.

The companies would argue that this can both boost their bottom lines while helping consumers, since the search for scale can, ultimately, cut costs. Whether or not that plays out in reality is a very different question.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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