Insurers’ Venture Capital Firms Pay With Influence Over Vendors

Launching a venture-capital (VC) fund has become commonplace for many health insurers, even smaller ones, industry insiders tell AIS Health. They typically do not disclose returns — and many of these funds are so new that there haven’t been enough exits to judge performance. But the investments pay dividends for insurers in the ability to influence the strategic direction of their vendors, get preferred contracting terms — and hopefully still make some money.

There are a lot of reasons that insurers launch VC funds, says Ari Gottlieb, a principal at consulting firm A2 Strategy Group. “They don’t have the pure profit motive that a traditional venture fund has, which is just making sound investments,” he says. “They’re not designed, though, to lose money.”

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Jill Brown Kettler

Jill Brown Kettler Executive Editor

Jill oversees AIS Health’s publications and manages the health editorial staff. She joined AIS Health in 1999, and brings unique skills and energy to the company, along with an intelligent perspective on the forces reshaping the health care industry. She holds a graduate degree in health finance and management from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, and was formerly a consultant with Arthur Andersen, where she worked with managed care plans, hospitals and medical groups on financial issues impacting their operations.

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