Elevance to acquire Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana


On Monday, Indiana-based Elevance Health, formerly known as Anthem, announced it has signed a deal to add Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA) to its network of Blues plans for an undisclosed sum. BCBSLA covers two-thirds of the state’s commercial insurance market, and has partnered with Elevance for five years to serve Louisiana’s dual-eligible population.

Elevance will operate BCBS plans in 15 states and cover 49M beneficiaries should the acquisition go through, though the move faces regulatory obstacles around folding nonprofit BCBSLA into its for-profit business.

The Gist: This deal is a harbinger for similar combinations to come. We’ve long been expecting more roll-ups of state- and regional-level plans as they struggle to compete with the for-profit national giants. 

Standalone regional plans often lack the scale to diversify their businesses and emulate the successful strategic playbooks of national insurers like UnitedHealth Group and Humana, which have rapidly expanded into the more profitable areas of care provision, provider support services, and pharmacy benefit management. 

State-level Blues plans have long been dominant in the PPO-driven commercial market, but have experienced mixed success in expanding into Medicare Advantage and other segments. If these mid-sized insurance players find they can’t compete alone, it won’t bode well for the cohort of much smaller “insurtech” startups. 

More payer consolidation ahead.  

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