Consumer Advocates Aren't Fooled. The Anthem-Cigna Merger Will Harm Consumers, Not Help Them.
In their recent ad in the Washington Post, Anthem claims that its merger with Cigna is good for consumers and should be allowed to proceed. However, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that Anthem is wrong and this merger will result in lots of harm to consumers, as demonstrated by comments from California consumer advocates.
Health Access California, a statewide consumer advocacy organization, stated that health insurance mergers almost always lead to higher premiums, that "Anthem has not provided evidence that the merger will result in lower costs and better value," and that the merger would further increase concentration in already concentrated health insurance markets. They also noted that Anthem has repeatedly pursued unreasonable rate increases, mostly notably in in April 2015 when it imposed an 8.7% average premium increase which the California Department of Insurance criticized.
Consumers Union also pointed out that the increased consolidation resulting from the Anthem-Cigna merger will harm consumers through higher premiums, reduced competition, and decreased quality of care. While the insurers have argued that the merger is needed to counter increasingly large healthcare providers, "experience shows that a showdown between them may well result in a handshake rather than honest competition."
Consumer Watchdog stated that the Anthem-Cigna merger would greatly enhance market power in nine California regions, affecting over 16.8 million consumers. Additionally, since 2013 Anthem has been responsible for at least $145 million in rate hikes that California antitrust regulators deemed unreasonable. This merger would give Anthem more power to increase premiums and harm consumers.
And finally, the Coalition to Protect Patient Choice stressed that the merger will harm competition, make consumers pay more for less, and that any efficiencies from the deal would not benefit consumers. It has the highest rate of complaints regarding access issues among plans, below average scores for consumer satisfaction, and has been repeatedly fined by California, Missouri, and New York for numerous consumer protection violations. This proposed merger will harm Americans, and this harm cannot be fixed by remedies.
Anthem can buy all the newspaper space they want, but they can't change the facts.