Health benefits

Most employees aren’t using their health benefits, but a new wave of M&A deals could boost employer engagement

The news: primary care provider Whole Health Vera merges with healthcare price transparency and navigation society Castlelight Health in one $370 million all-cash deal, according to a joint press release.

Learn more about Vera Whole Health and Castlight Health:

  • Vera contracts directly with employers to build onsite primary care clinics and reduce the cost of care for employees in 10 US states.
  • Castlight Health’s navigation solution helps employers increase awareness and use of their benefits.

What this means for the duo: A navigational platform like Castlight Health’s should make it easier for Vera Health employer customers to understand their health benefits.

  • Most (76%) employees do not understand their health benefits, and only a minority (10%) of employees actually use their benefits, through Castlelight health data.

A browsing platform like Castlight Health’s could fit nicely into the Vera Provider Network’s offerings:

  • Castlight Health could offer personalized recommendations to Vera Health client employers, encouraging workers to truly engage with their health benefits.

Ensuring employees understand the health benefits available to them is key to improving chronic disease management and reducing long-term costs to the employer:

  • About 87% of employers think the rising cost of health benefits for their employees is unsustainable over the next 5-10 years, through a KFF 2021 survey.

Zoom out: The Vera-Castlight Health merger is likely a sign that the digital health IPO boom is slowing. Instead, companies like this could increase their consolidation this year to remain attractive to customers.

For context, in 2014, Castlight Health was one of the first digital health companies to take the public plunge. Since then, the pandemic-induced demand for virtual care services has convinced companies like Am fine and Oak Street Health to go public in order to evolve quickly as well.

However, now that there are many more digital health solutions on the market this year, employers and insurers have more options to sift through, and it will likely be harder to get employers’ attention.

  • As a result, newcomers to benefits navigation are merging with primary care companies to provide a more comprehensive package of care for customers, relieving employers of the burden of choice.
  • In 2021 Navigation Platform Advantages hug acquired telehealth provider PlushCare for $450 million, for example.
  • And during the same year, navigation platform big rounds merged with a virtual care company Doctor on demand form Health includeda multi-billion dollar business.