The proposed mergers of insurance giants Anthem/Cigna and Aetna/Humana are likely to have a negative impact on both the cost and quality of care in Connecticut.
Mergers are usually justified by claims of increased efficiency and opportunity for innovation, but based on past experience those results are rarely delivered.
In fact, such a major consolidation would permanently change our state’s health care system for patients, physicians and other stakeholders. Mergers of this size should be carefully questioned, because they can lead to spikes in health insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs for patients.
The U.S. Department of Justice is currently reviewing the mergers to determine whether they violate antitrust laws by reducing market competition. Federal law prohibits mergers when the effect may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.
State insurance departments are also reviewing the impact of these proposed mergers. Here in Connecticut, Anthem currently provides health insurance to about 1.1 million residents and Cigna covers just under half a million. If the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger is approved, the resulting mega-insurer will cover 64% of Connecticut’s covered lives.
As the scheduling of a Connecticut Insurance Department public hearing on the Anthem-Cigna merger approaches, the nation’s eyes will be on Connecticut.
That is why the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, the Connecticut State Medical Society and Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut decided to form the Connecticut Campaign for Consumer Choice.
Our goal is to protect consumer choice and ensure a more transparent review process where patients, physicians, advocacy groups, and interested parties are given a fair chance to express their concerns regarding this unprecedented merger.
Connecticut statutes require our Insurance Commissioner, Katharine Wade, to evaluate the financial solvency of the merging companies and the benefit to policyholders. In the past, similar public hearings have been held at times and locations inaccessible to most consumers.
We have asked Commissioner Wade and the Connecticut Insurance Department to;
- Require that the public hearing be held at a venue and time that allows for maximum public participation;
- Grant interested parties’ intervenor status to allow for an adequate review of the proposed merger;
- Commission a study that will analyze the potential impact on cost, access, and the Connecticut economy, including jobs, as part of the deliberations.
All consumers should have the right to learn what these proposed mergers mean to them their families, and their communities. Any insured individual should be allowed to, in an open and public process, express their support or dissatisfaction with a plan by the major insurance companies that could permanently alter the delivery of health care in our state.
To join the Connecticut Campaign for Consumer Choice or to learn more, go to www.consumerchoicect.org.
Frances Padilla is the President, and former Executive Vice President, of Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.
Tom Swan is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG).
Matthew Katz is the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut State Medical Society.