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Two mega-mergers in the health insurance industry are sparking intense debate over cost and competition.
California has two health insurane regulatory agencies: 1. Commissioner Dave Jones, and 2.Shelley Roullaard and the Dept of Managed Health Care. The Department of Manged Health Care came into existence about 20 years ago when the boom in HMOs occured.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has criticized both deals — Anthem-Cigna andAetna-Humana — as being anti-competitive, and he has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to block the mergers on antitrust grounds. Jones has questioned whether policyholders will see much of the savings these companies tout in their proposed acquisitions.
But California’s other insurance regulator, Shelley Rouillard at the Department of Managed Health Care, approved the Aetna deal with a condition that the company try to keep future rate increases to a minimum. She hasn’t weighed in on Anthem’s merger.
Meanwhile, another key regulator reviewing the deals — Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade — has come under scrutiny because of her extensive ties to Cigna.
Chad Terhune of California Healthline discussed these developments, and the potential impact of industry mergers on consumers and market competition, last Friday on WNPR’s “Where We Live” in Connecticut.
Key regulators disagree in approving these consolidations. Some who are smaller insurers or those forming new entities say there is adequate competition in the market place.