Wellpoint, parent company of Anthem Blue Cross in California, announced on June 4, 2012, that it had entered into an agreement to purchase 1-800-CONTACTS, the largest direct-to-consumer retailer of contact lenses in the U.S.
Translation: “There’s no money in health insurance”
The Wellpoint press release noted, “This acquisition strategically aligns with our efforts to capitalize on new opportunities for growth, and further diversifies the company’s revenue stream into the complementary and higher-margin eyewear business,” said Angela F. Braly, chair, president and chief executive officer of WellPoint.
Hedging against the ACA
This may yet be another sign of the changing business model for health insurance companies. With the impending implementation of healthcare reform through the ACA, health insurance companies have started looking for other marketing and sales opportunities as a hedge against the possibility of diminished profits. We have seen an increased emphasis from health insurers offering more dental and vision plans. Aetna even introduced a health savings discount card for various health care services. The Aetna savings card is not insurance, it’s not regulated and it makes money. [Blog Post: Discount Card Scams]
Who’s next to be bought?
With Wellpoint acquiring 1-800-CONTACTS, might we look forward to Blue Shield of California purchasing someone like Stanton Optical or Aetna bidding for LensCrafters? What better way to increase revenue then to have members directed to corporate owned subsidiaries for prescription health care products.
Another perspective from David Williams of the Health Business Blog