By: The Editorial Board
The New York Times
Two proposed mergers involving four of the nation’s biggest health insurers could reduce competition in an important industry. That’s why federal and state regulators need to closely study these deals and, if necessary, force the companies to sell some parts of their businesses.
Earlier this summer, Anthem agreed to acquire Cigna for $48 billion, andAetna announced a $37 billion takeover of Humana. The antitrust division of the Justice Department and state governments are reviewing the deals. If regulators approve both transactions, the number of big national health insurers would drop from five to three.
The companies say that being bigger will give them the ability to negotiate lower prices with hospitals, physicians and drug makers and make health care more efficient. Not surprisingly, trade associations representing doctors and hospitals are not thrilled by that idea. They say these mergers will not only hurt them, but will hit consumers with higher premiums and other costs.