One of the consequences of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that it has sparked a giant wave of hospital consolidation: 100 deals were completed in the sector in 2014 — up 14% from the previous year, according to Wall Street research firm Irving Levin Associates.
What’s particularly notable about the recent spate of M&A is that it’s both “horizontal” and “vertical,” meaning hospitals aren’t just buying other hospitals, they’re picking up physician practices, rehabilitation facilities and other ancillary health care providers. Consider New York’s North Shore-LIJ, for example. Its aggressive M&A plan has turned it into the state’s largest employer, encompassing 18 hospitals, plus rehab centers, a medical research center, home-care services and hospice facilities. And last year it began offering health coverage through its own insurance company, CareConnect.
Wharton’s health care experts predict the trend of hospital consolidation will continue at a fast clip, particularly as health systems set up more and more Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in response to the ACA.