December 04, 2015
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ACP expresses 'significant concerns' about pending insurance company mergers

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The American College of Physicians is concerned about pending mergers between Aetna and Humana and Anthem and Cigna, according to a letter the organization issued to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP), said in a letter to William J. Baer, the Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, that the mergers may have detrimental effects on the health insurance market.

Specifically, the mergers could lead to cost increases and choice decreases for employers and patients as well as significant insurer concentration increases, Riley explained.

Riley also voiced concern that the mergers would reduce physicians' ability to negotiate with insurance companies, resulting in changes in covered services or premium increases.

"Especially concerning to ACP is a finding from an Aetna/Prudential merger that showed premiums increasing by 7% postmerger," Riley wrote. "The claim that savings from a merger would be passed on to consumers or result in innovation or higher quality of care must be thoroughly scrutinized."

He expressed that the mergers would stand in the way of goals set by the Affordable Care Act and urged the department to stop the merger.

"Consolidating four of the largest health insurance companies into two entities seriously threatens to undermine the spirit of competition in the health insurance market and could likely have adverse effects on physicians and patients," Riley wrote. "It is imperative that the Department of Justice Antitrust Division consider both the local and collective impact these mergers could have, and block any deal that significantly increases health insurer concentration, resulting in decreased choice and increased cost for patients and employers, reduces access due to changing and narrowing networks of physicians and hospitals, or prevents physicians from negotiation over provision of health services with those insurers."

Reference:

ACP. Letter to WJ Bear from WJ Riley. Available at: https://www.acponline.org/acp_policy/letters/insurance_consolidation_letter_doj_baer_2015.pdf