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The future of the health insurance industry

Payers must reinvent themselves and their missions, says Center for Public Integrity's Wendell Potter

The future of the health insurance industry is not just in flux--in many ways, it's a mystery. Of course, insurers will not cease to exist--but they'll likely be providing health insurance in a different way than they do now, as a result of pressure from Wall Street and the marketplace in general, writes Wendell Potter, a senior analyst at The Center for Public Integrity and former head of corporate communications at Cigna.

Change is inevitable, he writes, and insurers must adapt to a complex and growing industry.

Take Humana, for instance. The insurer began as a nursing home company in 1961. A couple decades later, it transformed into a hospital company. Then, after selling all of its hospitals, Humana became the insurer it's known as today, Potter writes.

Cigna, meanwhile, began as a fire and marine insurance company, he adds. However, Wall Street urged Cigna to focus on just one or two markets, so the insurer chose healthcare.

So, what does the future hold for insurers?

"I do believe that the health insurance companies that we all love to hate are going away," Ezekiel Emanuel, former White House healthcare adviser said earlier this year. "I think this is the wave of the future."

What's more, in a blog post last week, Potter wrote that many corporate executives are mulling whether they can provide their employees with higher-quality and more cost-effective healthcare without going through an insurance company.

For now, Insurers will continue to reinvent themselves--many are even redefining their missions. For example, Potter notes, Aetna's CEO Mark Bertolini plans on "creatively destroying the current business model to enable a new one." 

For more:
- read the article

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