Workplace Culture

Tech and Wellness: Centene Corp. Acquires LiveHealthier Inc.

By Rick Bell

Jan. 7, 2015

In what could be seen as another case in the employee benefits and health and wellness space of big fish gobbling up smaller ones to feast on their technology, LiveHealthier Inc.was acquired Jan. 5 by St. Louis-based Centene Corp.Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LiveHealthier, a 120-person company based in Bethesda, Maryland, makes health management software for companies, unions and government agenciesto foster positive and lasting health behaviors that drive down health care costs, according to a news release. LiveHealthier serves a diverse client portfolio, from media and manufacturing to financial, education and technology industries, the release stated.

Publicly traded Fortune 500 company Centene provides health care plans and other services through government-sponsored programs for individuals who lack sufficient health coverage or lack coverage altogether.

The deal comes on the heels of health insurance giant Aetna Inc.’s $400 million acquisition last November of Chicago-based private health insurance exchange company bswift. Some experts speculated that the deal was a move on Aetna’s part into the private exchange business. The carrot also was bswift’s technology, a platform that allowed employees easier engagement. As one expert noted, virtually every benefits-related company must be, in part, a tech company. From our Nov. 3 story:

The bswift acquisition is symbolic of how almost every company in every industry is emerging as a tech company,” said R. “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and founder of technology research firm Constellation Research Inc. “Nonsoftware tech companies realize that they need to acquire key technologies to compete in a digital world. The acquisition shows how important it is to have a platform to build on.”

Jill Micklow, a wellness consultant at Shaumburg, Illinois-based large independent insurance brokerageAssurance, said she has noticed a trend in such acquisitions.

“I have seen it both from large companies (i.e. insurance carriers) acquiring smaller health/wellness companies as a strategy to provide low- or no-cost wellness solutions to their employer groups as well as health/wellness companies acquiring similar companies to become a one-stop-shop for employers,” said Micklow in an email.

When employers are shopping for their medical insurance, Micklow added, a carrier’s wellness capabilities become a major factor in making an overall decision.

“When employers are in the market for a third-party wellness vendor, they are looking to partner with one vendor who can offer multiple solutions/programs to their specific needs, instead of partnering with several different vendors to get to the same end goal,” she said.  

Jason Blomquist, senior vice president, employee benefits practice leader at Assurance, added that technology makes it easier to uncover gaps in care and get individuals involved in managing their health before it becomes a large claim.

As our workforces become less focused on the office with more people working remotely, the health and wellness companies need technology to keep remote employees engaged in their wellness programs,” Blomquist said in an email. “Employers are adding on-site clinics to accomplish this where they have large employee populations. However, the challenge is keeping the remote employees engaged and making sure they are seeking care appropriately and managing their health conditions. Companies like LiveHealthier make this possible by giving easy access to care management programs without the office visits.”

LiveHealthier was founded in 2005 by former Washington Post executive Mary Moslander; the 120-person company will remain headquartered in Bethesda with Moslander serving as president and CEO, according to the release.

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director. For comments or questions email editors@workforce.com.

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