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UnitedHealth’s Harken Health shuts down after year of cuts, losses

May 21, 2017
  • UnitedHealth’s Harken Health has closed in Illinois and Georgia, reported the Chicago Tribune. The health insurance giant launched Harken Health in 2015 to experiment an integrated system that combined health insurance and providers.
  • The company had five health clinics in Chicago, Skokie and Des Plaines and offered free primary care visits and wellness programs as well as 24/7 access to physicians through phone, email or videa chat. Harken Health will cover members through the end of the year.
  • Harken Health, which had 26,000 members in Illinois at the end of 2016, lost nearly $64 million that year. It stopped offering Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans at the end of last year.

Harken Health was never a major player in the insurance market, but its demise ends an experiment that company officials believed would reduce healthcare costs. The company lost nearly $70 million during the first six months of 2016 and never recovered.

The closure will be disappointing for those promoting alternative care models as ways to improve outcomes while reducing costs and perhaps increasing patients satisfaction. In April 2016, then CEO Tom Vanderheyden told Healthcare Dive the company’s care teams would be “empowered with the time to listen and build authentic and trusting relationship with members.”

Harken Health said in 2016 it planned to open eight more health centers in Atlanta and Chicago in addition to its then 10 clinics by this year. The company had 33,000 members in the first quarter of 2016 before reducing membership numbers later in the year.

Harken Health’s initial focus was on the individual insurance market, including the ACA exchanges. The company dropped out of the exchanges at the end of last year and canceled expansion plans in Florida.


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