5 unexpected effects of the health insurer mergers

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The proposed Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers could change more than just the level of competition in the insurance industry, according to LifeHealthPro. Consolidation could also alter the way the health insurance industry processes information. Here’s a look at some of the ways that could play out:

  1. As government health programs could account for a larger percentage of the remaining health insurers’ overall business, that could limit their ability to be candid about concerns related to government rules and programs, notes the article.
  2. Fewer players could also mean reduced funding for America's Health Insurance Plans, which has traditionally taken the lead in converting industry priorities into legislative positions and policies. In the last year, both UnitedHealth Group and Aetna have dropped their memberships.
  3. Insurers may hear less about what consumers want, as they depend less and less on producers and consultants to communicate consumers’ concerns, the article notes.
  4. Though some members of Congress already complain about the difficulty of obtaining information about Affordable Care Act operations, fewer insurers may result in less pressure on regulators to release information, according to the article.
  5. A smaller number of insurance companies focused on reducing premiums to appease regulators could leave critical access, network and quality issues unaddressed. And without regular, open feedback from insurers, regulators may not understand how specific policies contribute to reduced competition or other issues.

Federal regulators are currently reviewing both major insurer deals, and are reportedly skeptical that either the Aetna-Humana merger or Anthem-Cigna merger would not harm competition.

- read the LifeHealthPro article

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