In Focus: Merger Between Anthem and Cigna Halted

By Allen Smith, J.D. Feb 10, 2017

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said health care consumers are the victors following the  U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decision to block the merger between insurers Anthem and Cigna.

"The Anthem-Cigna merger had the potential to harm millions of consumers who are covered by health insurance plans—including hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers—in the form of higher premium costs, reduced accessibility and lower quality of care," he said in a news release. 

The Justice Department, New York and 10 other states plus the District of Columbia brought suit to halt the merger on antitrust grounds.

Anthem Will Appeal Ruling

Anthem announced on Feb. 9 that it will appeal the decision.  Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish said the merger would benefit consumers by saving them $2 billion in medical costs. (The Hill)

Anthem and Cigna Have Huge Share of Market

The decision blocking the merger of Anthem and Cigna prevented the combination of the second and third largest health insurers in the country. (The Denver Post)

Differing Views on Effect Merger Would Have

Anthem asserted that the consolidation would have saved patients money because it would be able to extract better pricing from health care providers after the acquisition. However, the Justice Department's acting assistant attorney general said the merger would have stifled competition and raised insurance prices. (USA Today)

Aetna-Humana Merger Also Blocked

The court's ruling was similar to a Jan. 23 decision that a merger between Aetna and Humana should not be allowed to go forward on antitrust grounds. (The New York Times)

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Trend Toward Consolidation Thwarted

For the moment, the rulings halt consolidation in the health insurance market that may have reduced the five main insurers to three. Smaller insurers have announced plans to merge as well. (The New York Times)

Doctors Welcome Decision

While insurers claimed mergers were precipitated by the Affordable Care Act, Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association, welcomed the blocking of the Anthem-Cigna merger, saying the proposed acquisition poses a threat to the affordability of health care. (US News & World Report)

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