Consumer groups form coalition to target mergers of health insurance providers
Two consumer advocacy groups in the United States have formed a new coalition in order to create pressure of antitrust regulators concerning the merger of large insurance providers. These mergers would cut the number of for-profit health insurance companies from five to three, which may have a dramatic impact on consumers in terms of insurance options and costs. The coalition may be able to shed more light on the potential impact that mergers will have, encouraging state regulators to take action on the issue.
Coalition shows concern over the rising cost of insurance coverage
The Coalition to Preserve Patient Choice is made up of the Consumer Federation of America and Consumer Action, as well as other advocacy groups. The coalition was formed in response to Anthem’s purchase of Cigna Corp., which came in at $47 billion. Aetna recently made the decision to purchase Humana Inc., which has raised concerns among consumer advocacy group in much the same way Anthem’s deal with Cigna did. The coalition believes that these mergers will create new challenges for consumers.
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Rising costs could limit the options that consumers have
Among these challenges is the ability for consumers to choose what kind of health insurance they have. Some consumers are likely to see major increases in insurance costs, which will strictly limit their options, especially if they cannot afford policies being offered by other insurers. The coalition suggests that insurance mergers in the past resulted in price increase ranging from 7% to 14%, placing consumers under significant financial pressure.
Federal regulators continue to examine the potential effects of mergers
Not all consider the mergers to be detrimental, of course. Aetna has noted that its deal with Humana is primarily focused on the Medicare market, where significant competition and options for consumers exists. The U.S. Department of Justice and federal regulators have been subjected to the concerns of consumer groups and the insurance industry and are working to determine whether the mergers will take place.