Anthem buying behavioral health firm that provides services to 36 million people

Indianapolis-based health insurance giant Anthem Inc. announced Thursday that it has agreed to buy Beacon Health Options—the largest independent behavioral health organization in the country—for an undisclosed price.

Boston-based Beacon provides mental health, substance abuse and other services to more than 36 million people nationwide.

Anthem—which owns Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states, including Indiana—has more than 40 million members in its plans. It said the deal fits with its strategy of diversifying into providing health care services, including for patients with complex and chronic conditions.

Behavioral health, also known as mental health, is a fast-growing field. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26.2 percent of American adults experience mental illness, and that percentage is climbing.

Anthem said it plans to combine its own behavioral health operations with those of Beacon. 

“The combination will … create one of the most comprehensive behavioral health networks capable of offering more accessible and affordable care for consumers throughout the country,” Anthem said in a press release.

Anthem is buying Beacon from two private equity firms—Boston-based Bain Capital and New York-based Diamond Castle Holdings. They have owned Beacon since 2014.

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