HEALTH INSURANCE

Industry Buzz: LabCorp and Quest Swept Up in Insurance Contract Partner Swap

Can you imagine Scarlett and Rhett swapping partners with Romeo and Juliet? Something like the laboratory industry equivalent of that scenario took place on May 25 when two of the nation’s largest private health insurers announced they were dropping their own longstanding lab contractor partner in favor of the other’s.

UnitedHealthcare & LabCorp
Effective Jan. 1, 2019, Laboratory Corporation of America will no longer be UnitedHealthcare’s exclusive provider of laboratory services. It’s not a divorce. LabCorp will remain part of the UnitedHealthcare network. But it will now have to share those 48+ million members with arch rival Quest Diagnostics as a fellow preferred provider. Previously, Quest provided lab services to UnitedHealthcare members in a few select markets via its AmeriPath anatomic pathology business. Securing a piece of the UnitedHealthcare pie means that Quest will be in network with “90% of insured lives nationally” across all its payor relationships, noted Quest CEO Steve Rusckowski.

Aetna & Quest
The yin to this yang is the parallel announcement that Aetna has decided to end its lab services exclusive with Quest. Come Jan. 1, LabCorp will also gain the status of Aetna national preferred lab services provider with access to the Hartford-based insurer’s network of 20+ million strong. Quest will also remain an Aetna preferred provider but will no longer hold a monopoly on that status. Quest’s relationship with Aetna “remains strong and unchanged,” according to a company spokesperson.

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