A Symptom; Not the Sickness: Understanding Health Insurance Consolidation

September 21, 2015

by John R. Graham

Chairman Lee, Ranking Member Klobuchar, thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony on the impact of mergers in the health insurance industry. The two combinations of greatest concern are Anthem’s announced takeover of Cigna and Aetna’s announced takeover of Humana. Although tis hearing is narrowly focused on antitrust as enforced by the Department of Justice, it is also necessary to understand Obamacare as a cause of this consolidation.

One indicator regulators use to determine whether a business combination will reduce competition is whether there are significant barriers to entry in the industry. If there are, new competitors will not exploit openings created by incumbents’ consolidation. The CEOs of Anthem and Aetna have each (independently) pointed to Oscar, a new health insurer with highly pedigreed investors, as evidence that health insurance is an easy business to enter.

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