ANTHEM BETS BIG ON BEHAVIORAL HEALTH WITH NEW ACQUISITION

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Anthem BlueCross BlueShield acquired behavioral health management network Beacon Health Options, which boasts 36 million members, for an undisclosed amount, per Forbes.

Why this matters: Anthem likely views the snap up as a way to diversify its revenue stream, while also tamping down spending on members’ behavioral health disorders: 1 in 5 US citizens are affected by mental illness, and per-person spending on mental health grew 20% between 2013 and 2017. Meanwhile, spending on substance use grew 64% over the same period, per a February 2019 Health Care Cost Institute report.

Furthermore: Anthem’s Beacon Health Options buy tracks with the recent trend of US payers leaning on acquisitions to expand their footprint in growth markets. For example, insurer Centene announced last month that it’s in the process of acquiring rival WellCare for $17 billion, in part to control more of the booming private Medicare market.