The turf war between hospitals and insurers for physician practices continues even though hospitals started much earlier and are ahead. FP Academy reports insurers only own 2% of it's members practices. In contrast, consulting firm Avalere reports hospitals acquired 5000 practices between July 2015 and July 2016.
Insurers leading the charge are UHC with it's Optumcare subsidiary, National Insurer's Centene Corp, Humana and now Anthem. Optumcare bought the large DaVita medical group, which employs 750 PCP's for $4.9 B in December 2017. Humana went for post-acute care Kindred healthcare for $4.1 B. Humana was also part owner of Curo Health Services, a hospice operator for $1.4B.
Humana paid another $190M for a FP group in Orlando for $190M. Their reasons vary but in general are: control spending, increase influence, protect revenue stream from aggressive hospitals and increase access for it's members.
Some do it to bring down costs such as Humana's Kindred purchase to reduce cost for its Medicare Advantage group.
Not all ventures have been successful. Humana bought Concentra an urgent care provider for $790M but sold it for a small profit because it did not 'align' with it's overall strategy. Now, that is a buzz word still looking for a definition!!
The sweet spot appears to be insurers wanting to collaborate with physicians and not employing them. Physicians are then allowed to do what they do best and insurers work on streamlining processes, billing, collections etc. The totally adversarial relationship between physicians and insurers may have subsided a bit but most attitudes are still strong.