Amidst potential mergers and shutdowns, Aetna and Banner Health Network (Banner) have announced that they plan to form a new joint venture health insurance plan in Arizona.
Aetna and Banner’s History
This isn’t the first time that Aetna and Banner have teamed up. Rather, this new effort expands upon the success of their jointly operated Accountable Care Organization (ACO), Aetna Whole Health Plans.
Aetna Whole Health Plans has served beneficiaries since it was started in 2011. Over the course of the last five years, it’s saved members and customers in Arizona over $9.9 million, according to Tom Grote, president of Aetna’s Arizona market. He claims it’s also led to significant clinical improvements—decreasing medical costs by 11.5 percent and avoidable surgery admissions by 24 percent.
The New Banner | Aetna Health Plan
The new plan, named Banner | Aetna, will be an employer-based health plan offering a variety of products for the fully insured and self-insured. At first, it will only be available to those in Maricopa and Pinal counties. In time, the companies intend to expand the plan’s availability statewide.
With their new plan, Aetna and Banner aim to enhance their members’ experiences, as well as streamline their care and administrative services. Savings will be passed to employers and plan members through lower premiums. Further, Aetna’s member website will link to Banner’s patient portal, allowing members to access information about their plan or providers, see past claims, schedule appointments, and review their test results.
Banner | Aetna’s commercial products could be ready by January 1. However, the plan must first get the DOI approvals that it needs. Aetna and Banner expect they will receive these approvals in the middle of 2017.
According to Grote, once the company is approved, employers will be able to switch their contracts to Banner | Aetna plans at their next renewal.
A Match Made in Insurance
Aetna and Banner’s payer-provider partnership is mutually beneficial. Their collaboration allows Aetna to benefit from Banner’s care management experience, as well as its excellent network and delivery system. In exchange, Banner stands to benefit from Aetna’s innovative analytics, health information technology, and proficiency as a top health plan.
Banner has ACO collaborations with several insurers, but this is the first time it has partnered with an insurer to create a new commercial health plan. Conversely, Aetna has already formed two such partnerships—one with Texas Health Resources in Texas and one with Inova Health System in Virginia. This new deal is likely part of Aetna’s attempt to make three-fourths of its contracts value-based agreements by 2020.