On January 11th, 2016, a number of major consumer groups and unions composed of Consumers Union, Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare, Virginia Organizing, the Virginia Rural Health Association, Consumer Action, the Commonwealth Institute, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Watchdog, SEIU Virginia 512, and DC 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO filed comments to Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham regarding the proposed mergers of Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana. The purpose of these comments was to raise concerns about the two mergers and their impact on healthcare in Virginia and to urge that public hearings be held to evaluate these mergers. Here are a number of specific points raised:
It is critical for the Virginia State Corporation Commission to hold hearings regarding these mergers. These proceedings are public, allowing third parties and the public to air their concerns.
These mergers would substantially reduce competition and create large overlaps in Virginia in a number of different insurance products including commercial, ASO, and Medicare Advantage. A combination of Anthem and Cigna would create an entity with just under 72% share of the Virginia ASO market, and a combination of Aetna and Humana would have 66% of all seniors with a Medicare Advantage plan in Virginia.
The mergers would also increase costs for consumers. The merging companies have requested significant premium increases within Virginia, and studies on health insurance mergers have found significant premium increases for consumers post-merger.
Individuals and organizations are worried that these acquisitions will further reduce network adequacy. This is already a substantial problem within Virginia.
Divestiture is not an effective remedy for restoring competition in this situation. However the Commission has the power to develop its own solutions for a health insurance merger.
To see the full comments submitted to Commissioner Cunningham please click here.
To see the comments submitted by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association to Commissioner Cunningham, please click here and here.
To see the testimony submitted to Commissioner Cunningham for the May 25th hearing, please click here.