Humana reinvents itself again, to adapt to U.S. health-care reform

Humana, Kentucky’s largest corporation, says it is reinventing itself in the wake of the federal health reform law, focusing on becoming a “well-being” company rather than just a provider of health insurance.

Of the notable changes, the Louisville-based corporation that started life almost 50 years ago as a nursing-home company, then ran hospitals, is now back in the business of providing medical care directly, The Courier-Journal‘s Patrick Howington reports. That change is due to the $790 million purchase of Concentra, which operates occupational and urgent-care clinics (photo of Dr. J. Shawn Standridge and Danny Murphy by C-J’s Michael Hayman). Humana Chairman and CEO Michael McCallister said similar purchases in fields like home health and information technology are expected.
Humana is also involved with development of products such as fitness games that can be played online and a water bottle that tells its owner when it’s time to rehydrate. The company is also planning to market diabetic supplies to consumers, and is selling research to health-care companies about the effectiveness of certain drugs. “It’s a significant change in our strategy,” McCallister said.
Part of the change is due to the new health law, which will mean a $136 billion federal cutback in Medicare Advantage, a supplemental coverage program. Humana is the program’s second-largest provider with 1.9 million members, and half its revenue comes from the program.
Though Humana laid off 750 Louisville workers early last year, analysts predict the company will weather the changes. Though Medicare Advantage cuts will likely mean there will be a predicted 5 million fewer seniors enrolled in the plan by 2019, other, smaller providers will likely stop offering it. Humana will be there to pick up those lost customers, analysts contend. (Read more)
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