Why disruptors like CVS and Optum spent $17B on home health companies

Disruptors such as CVS Health and Optum are buying home health companies to grab a share of the $265 billion of Medicare services that are expected to move to the home by 2025, the American Hospital Association reported July 11.

Healthcare disruptors have been going on a home health spending spree over the past several months, believing they'll be able to reduce costs by catching health conditions before they become acute, according to the article. Optum offered in June to buy Amedisys with its more than 465,000 patients for $3.3 billion, having just completed a $5.4 billion deal in February for the LHC Group, which claims to reach more than two-thirds of American seniors. Meanwhile, CVS purchased Signify Health in March for $8 billion, while Walgreens said in October it would buy the remaining stake of CareCentrix for $392 million.

"This strategy's effectiveness will be determined in the years to come," the AHA wrote. "In the meantime, the post-acute care market seems likely to grow increasingly competitive among those looking to transform care — whether it be traditional providers or disruptors that have insurance assets, provider capabilities and services aimed squarely at America's senior population."

While CMS has proposed cutting reimbursement to home health agencies by 2.2 percent, "the opportunity for the winners in this market will be significant," the AHA noted. Last year, McKinsey & Co. estimated that $265 billion of care would shift from traditional healthcare facilities to the home, accounting for a quarter of spending on Medicare Advantage and fee-for-service beneficiaries.

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