The Coalition to
Protect Patient Choice
of David Balto
Competitive healthcare is healthcare with choices
Advocacy on consumer healthcare competition issues aimed at lowering prescription drug costs
March 04, 2016
On March 4th, 2016, a coalition of consumer groups and unions consisting of Consumers Union, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Health Care for All New York, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Sergeants’ Benevolent Association, and New York PIRG filed comments to Superintendent Maria T. Vullo regarding the proposed mergers of Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana. The purpose of these comments was to raise concerns about the mergers and its impact on healthcare in New York and to urge the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to carefully review these mergers to determine their impact on the competitive landscape. Here are a number of specific points raised:
DFS is empowered to review proposed health insurance mergers to determine if they are in the public interest. It should carefully review the mergers, consider holding public hearings to evaluate their impact, and if necessary take action to protect consumers.
New York’s health insurance markets are already highly concentrated, with the three largest insurers controlling most of the individual, small group, and large group insurance markets. The Anthem-Cigna merger would result in concentration beyond antitrust thresholds in some areas.
The mergers would also increase costs for consumers. Health insurance mergers lead to higher premiums, and New York consumers already pay some of the highest premiums in the nation.
DFS, the New York State Attorney General, and the Department of Justice are reviewing the proposed mergers. If DFS does approve the merger, it should consider conditioning its approval on additional protections on behalf of health insurance consumers.
To see the full comments submitted to Director Rouillard please click here.
On June 22nd, 2016, a coalition of consumer groups and unions consisting of Consumer Action, Consumers Union, Health Care for All New York, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, and Sergeants Benevolent Association submittd a letter to the New York Department of Financial Services on the Department's authority to take action regarding the proposed mergers and possible remedies for the mergers. To see the full letter submitted, please click here.
On July 11th, 2016, the New York Department of Financial Services approved the Aetna-Humana merger. To see the approval order, click here.