Urgent Care Mega Trend #4: Payor ownership of urgent care centers
Payor ownership of urgent care is an emerging trend as major insurance companies expand urgent care groups across the country. In joint ventures and as full owners, payors are dominating selected markets with large investments in urgent care. They purchase existing practices and open de novo clinics to serve their members. This trend raises an interesting contracting and patient access question, will one payor give a contract to another payor in a market where the first has an urgent care center that they prefer their members use? As with hospital ownership of urgent care centers, there is also the issue of competing goals. Can payors resist combining primary care and urgent care, and if not, can they manage those businesses simultaneously? One large experiment so far has proven that this is much more difficult than it appears.
Alan Ayers, Vice President of Stategic Initiatives, moderated a roundtable discussion in the September 2015 issue of the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine. In it, he predicted that “going forward for the next couple years, we’ll likely not see such sizable deals, but we will continue to experience significant Mergers & Acquisitions, because the larger operators will continue to expand geographically.” Read his take and those of other industry experts in the full article.