Behavioral Healthcare: Five Key Factors Are Driving Sector Consolidation

MAR 20

Mergers and acquisitions, public equity financings and private equity investments in the Behavioral Healthcare industry closed with a bang in 2011, and the momentum has continued into 2012. Demand and access to behavioral healthcare services, including treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders, has accelerated in recent years due to a number of favorable industry and legislative trends.

Within this highly fragmented industry, Acadia Healthcare Company, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHA) has pursued an aggressive growth strategy in the last twelve months, executing a number transformative strategic decisions:

  • Equity Offering: On December 15th, Acadia completed a public equity offering of 9.5 million shares at $7.50 per share for total net proceeds of $67.5 million. Acadia plans to use the offering proceeds principally to fund its acquisition strategy. The Company certainly did not waste much time, announcing on January 5th that is has signed a definitive agree to acquire three inpatient hospitals from Haven Behavioral Healthcare for $91 million in cash.
  • Reverse Merger: On November 11th, Acadia completed its merger with PHC, Inc., d/b/a Pioneer Behavioral Health (AMEX: PHC) and as a result became the leading publicly traded pure-play provider of inpatient behavioral healthcare services, based upon licensed beds.
  • Add-on Acquisitions: Acadia purchased MeadowWood Behavioral Health System, an acute care psychiatric hospital, and Youth and Family Centered Services, Inc., an operator of 13 inpatient and outpatient psychiatric and behavioral health facilities, in July and April of 2011, respectively.

Private equity investors are also playing a meaningful role in this sector, accounting for roughly 30% of overall activity during 2010 and 2011. Just prior to the new year, Cressey & Co, a healthcare-focused private equity firm, acquired a majority stake in InnerChange, a residential treatment provider offering therapeutic services and accredited academics to young women with behavioral, emotional and substance abuse problems. This is investment marks the Cressey’s second investment in the behavioral healthcare sector; Cressey invested in Haven Behavioral Healthcare Inc. in 2008.

So what industry dynamics are catching the attention of both the public and private equity investors?

The following are a few of the more compelling attributes that in our view, will fuel the growth, investment and consolidation in the market.

  • Large and Growing Market. National expenditures on mental health and substance abuse treatment are expected to reach $239 billion in 2014, up from $121 billion in 2003, representing a compound annual growth rate of nearly 7%.The demand for behavioral health services has increased in recent years due to earlier and more accurate diagnosis of mental health conditions and the de-stigmatization of seeking treatment. It is estimated that approximately 6% of people in the US suffer from a seriously debilitating mental illness and over 20% of children either currently or at some point in their life, have had a seriously debility mental disorder. Moreover, the influx of returning US veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will result in a growing percentage of veterans with serious mental and substance abuse disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, PTSD and major depression.
  • Favorable Legislative Initiatives.  Recent legislative trends are increasing access to industry services as more individuals obtain insurance coverage in 2014. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”) of 2008, which went into effect in January 2010, requires health plans to provide coverage for mental health services on par with conventional medical health services and forbids employers and insurance companies from placing greater restrictions on mental healthcare compared to other conditions. This legislation not only expands coverage for the existing insured population, but also for the newly insured in 2014, a meaningful percentage of which are said to suffer from a mental health conditions.
  • Diverse Payor Mix. Compared to other healthcare services sectors, behavioral health is reimbursed by a diverse mix of public and private payors. With the exception of a few segments within behavioral health, no single payor type (state/local/federal, Medicaid, Medicare, commercial, private pay) dominates that market. That said, Medicaid represents a significant source of funds, so potential cuts to Medicaid funding should be watched closely.
  • Attractive Financial Model. Compared to general acute care hospitals, which typically generate mid-teens margins, inpatient behavioral healthcare enjoy margins in the range of 20-40% for acute hospitalization and 15-25% for residential treatment. Maintenance capital expenditures are minimal at approximately 2% of revenue.
  • Niche markets / delivery models… Downsize fitness. The behavioral healthcare industry includes a number of different sub-segments defined on multiple dimensions, including age, gender, illness severity, diagnosis, delivery model and payors. As a result, tremendous opportunity exists for providers to expand into attractive niche/specialty markets. Companies such as, Downsize Fitness, are pursuing the obesity and eating disorder market(s) by developing niche-specialized facilities. Downsize fitness is new to the fitness center scene and is designed specifically for the chronically overweight and obese individuals. Trim men and women are not allowed as members, providing a more welcoming environment than in most conventional gyms.

With healthcare reform just around the corner, TripleTree expects the barrage of M&A and investment activity to continue and even accelerate. We look forward to sharing our thoughts as this market continues to evolve – let us know what you think.

Jonathan Hill
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