For a long time, there’s been talk in the air of major healthcare mergers. The big five – Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Anthem and UnitedHealth – have been boiling down to an even bigger three.
One of the mergers that’s been brewing for a couple years now is the acquisition of Humana by Aetna. Another is that of Cigna by Anthem. Consumer advocates have long been pushing back against these plans, raising concerns that such deals would harm customers, and that by letting giant healthcare companies become even larger, competition between players would be reduced.>
It appears they’ve been heard.
“A U.S. federal judge blocked on Monday health insurer Aetna’s proposed $34 billion merger with rival Humana, saying it was illegal under antitrust law,” Reuters reported.
Both of these deals were a response to industry-wide changes introduced by the ACA, which resulted in “a frenzy of deal-making,” said the New York Times. Both were challenged by the Obama administration.
Now that the Trump administration plans to repeal the ACA and replace it with some other as-yet-undisclosed policy, tremors are shaking the industry, and the future is unclear. According to the New York Times, this block is another source of flux
The block, however, may be temporary. Thomas Lang, an antitrust law specialist, said he wouldn’t bet on the companies involved winning an appeal, according to USA Today. But John Gorman, founder of Gorman Health Group consultancy, said that Aetna and Humana will likely seek other ways to expand. If they can’t open the door, they’ll find a window
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