Humana will buy part of Kindred Healthcare's home health business, putting a major insurer deeper into a business segment occupied by Baton Rouge's Amedisys and Lafayette's LHC Group Inc.
Kindred at Home is the largest publicly traded home health company with $2.5 billion in revenue. It's unclear how the deal will affect No. 2 LHC Group at $1.8 billion and No. 3 Amedisys at $1.5 billion.
Sheryl Skolnick, managing director of equity research at Mizuho Securities USA who follows Amedisys, said it's possible the Kindred acquisition may divert some volume from Amedisys home health agencies to Kindred.
She noted said the Humana deal requires lots of approvals by regulators.
The deal is the latest example of a health insurer growing more involved in the delivery of care on top of handling the bills for it.
The insurer said Tuesday it will pay about $800 million in cash for a 40 percent stake in the business, which includes hospice care and serves about 130,000 patients daily. The remaining stake will be purchased by the private equity firms TPG Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. The deal also gives Humana the right to acquire the rest of Kindred's home health business in a few years.
Those firms also will acquire the rest of Louisville, Kentucky-based Kindred Healthcare Inc., which runs long-term acute care and inpatient rehabilitation hospitals.
Humana, which already operates a home health business, said the deal will help it keep costs down, improve health and manage chronic conditions. CEO Bruce Broussard said in a prepared statement that care delivered at home is a "vital element" in improving the health of older people living with chronic conditions, which can include diabetes or heart disease.
Health insurers and other entities have been pushing deeper into managing or providing patient care in order to cut costs and improve quality. The basic idea is to help people stick with treatment plans, stay on medication and live healthy lifestyles in order to ward off expensive care like hospital stays.
Humana Inc., also based in Louisville, is one of the nation's biggest providers of Medicare Advantage plans, which are privately run versions of the federal Medicare program for people who are over 65 or disabled. It also provides Medicare prescription drug coverage and offers commercial insurance.