Partners-Care New England merger likely to raise premiums

A study from the Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner said the state’s residents would see increases in insurance premiums if Boston-based Partners Healthcare acquires Care New England, thanks to Partners likely using its regional market clout to gain better prices from insurers. 

The proposed acquisition has reached the point where the systems have agreed to enter into a definitive merger agreement—and possibly include Lifespan, Rhode Island’s largest health system. According to health insurers interviewed by the commissioner’s office, Partners would then ask for higher rates.

“Our experience with Partners tells us they like to solve problems with revenue solutions,” said one insurance executive in the report, according to GoLocalProv. “They will say, ‘Hit this price point or we are out of your network—including the whole Massachusetts network.’”

The insurance execs also implied Partners has “been on good behavior” on asking for rate increases in recent years in order to avoid closer scrutiny in Massachusetts and wouldn’t act the same way in a new market where prices are lower. In one example, an interviewee said Partners physician organizations in Massachusetts are up to 50 percent more expensive than the fee schedule for a typical Rhode Island practice.

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