Hospital and health plan partnerships: The affordable care act’s impact on promoting health and wellness

Michelle Vu, Annesha White, Virginia P. Kelley, Jennifer Kuca Hopper, Cathy Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) healthcare reforms, centered on achieving the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Triple Aim goals of improving patient care quality and satisfaction, improving population health, and reducing costs, have led to increasing partnerships between hospitals and insurance companies and the implementation of employee wellness programs. Hospitals and insurance companies have opted to partner to distribute the risk and resources and increase coordination of care. OBJECTIVE: To examine the ACA’s impact on the health and wellness programs that have resulted from the joint ventures of hospitals and health plans based on the published literature. METHOD: We conducted a review of the literature to identify successful mergers and best practices of health and wellness programs. Articles published between January 2007 and January 2015 were compiled from various search engines, using the search terms “corporate,” “health and wellness program,” “health plan,” “insurance plan,” “hospital,” “joint venture,” and “vertical merger.” Publications that described consolidations or wellness programs not tied to health insurance plans were excluded. Noteworthy characteristics of these programs were summarized and tabulated. RESULTS: A total of 44 eligible articles were included in the analysis. The findings showed that despite rising healthcare costs, joint ventures prevent hospitals from trading-off quality and services for cost reductions. Administrators believed that partnering would allow the companies to meet ACA standards for improving clinical outcomes at reduced costs. Before the implementation of the ACA, some employers had wellness programs, but these were not standardized and did not need to produce measurable results. The ACA encouraged improvement of employee wellness programs by providing funding for expanded health services and by mandating quality care. Successful workplace health and wellness programs have varying components, but all include monetary incentives and documented outcomes. CONCLUSION: The concurrent growth of hospital health plans (especially those emerging from vertical mergers and partnerships) and wellness programs in the United States provides a unique opportunity for employees and patient populations to promote wellness and achieve the Triple Aim goals as initiated by CMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Health and Drug Benefits
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2016


  • Accountable care organization
  • Affordable care act
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Health insurance plan
  • Healthcare reform
  • Joint ventures
  • Partnerships


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