Aetna has acquired Horizon Behavioral Services, LLC, provider of employee assistance programs (EAPs), for the purchase price of approximately $70 million.
Texas-based Horizon Behavioral Services is the third-largest domestic provider of EAP services by membership with approximately 1,400 contracted employer clients representing more than 5 million covered employees.
Aetna’s purchase of an established EAP provider is worth noting for two business reasons, says Peggy C. Frank, MBA CEO, Frank Public Relations Worldwide, Westlake Village, Calif.
First, it appears that instead of organically growing the specific offerings that Horizon Behavioral Services provides, it makes more sense for Aetna to purchase the proven EAP services, says Frank, who also served as a healthcare executive for Prudential, before the Prudential-Aetna merger in 1999.
“Moreover, the acquisition will grow Aetna’s membership base as the Horizon deal appears to bring with it additional members,” she says.
Perhaps the broader significance of the Aetna acquisition of adding new employee assistance services to its core EAP offerings is the fact that it reflects tough economic times and the impact on employee well-being and workplace efficiency, Frank adds.
“Specifically, helping to keep employees and their families both physically and emotionally healthy carries with it a proven return on investment,” she says. “Think in terms of employees’ productivity, quality control, service excellence, and employee retention—all essential characteristics that adds value to an organization.”