DOJ sues to block Anthem-Cigna, Aetna-Humana health insurance mergers

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Washington, DC—Consumer Action today applauds the Department of Justice's decision to block the Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana health insurance mergers. After a careful and thorough review of the proposed acquisitions, DOJ found that the mergers are anticompetitive, would greatly harm consumers and threaten the fragile current dynamic in the health insurance marketplace. 

The deals would have consolidated four of the biggest health insurers in the country into two monster firms. Anthem and Cigna have a corner on the large employer market, while Aetna-Human serves large numbers of Medicare Advantage managed care enrollees. Consumer Action believes the consolidation of services by these four large insurers would have led to stifled competition and higher rates in the market.

The DOJ's decision was announced today by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer and head of the Antitrust Division, Sonia K. Pfaffenroth. Lynch said, "Health insurance can mean the difference, quite literally, between life and death, impacting not only the bank accounts of consumers but the lives of the individuals themselves."

Baer said, "These four companies are already among the largest most dominate insurers in the country. They are thriving and consumers continue to benefit from the competion. Seniors, working families, the formerly uninsured and the underinsured, as well as doctors and hospitals, benefit greatly from this competition. These mergers pose unacceptable risk."

Ken McEldowney of Consumer Action welcomed the decision. "At a time when there is already too much anticompetitive behavior in the healthcare industry, DOJ has stood up for consumers and their rights. Over the past year, it became clear that these mergers were only about greater profits, not helping consumers. We applaud DOJ's recent announcement." 

“We hope that this action will lead to increasing scrutiny of mergers and anticompetitive behavior in the healthcare industry,” said McEldowney. “There should be more transparency and accountability in the merger review process, with additional opportunities for public input.”




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