You might have noticed an ad currently running on this blog by the Virginia Campaign for Consumer Choice. The point of this campaign is both clear-cut and important: to “educate consumers and families on the importance of a thorough and public review process for the pending mergers of Anthem Inc. with Cigna Corp. and Aetna with Humana Inc.” To that end, “Over the next few months, we’ll be fighting for a public review process to protect your rights as a consumer.” Because, as they note: “When Insurance Providers Merge, CONSUMERS Pay the Price.”
On a related note, State Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax/Prince William) has an op-ed in today’s RTD entitled, “Virginia deserves hearings on planned health insurance mergers.” Surovell’s key points are worth emphasizing.
- The potential “multibillion-dollar mergers of Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna” pose serious “potential risks,” given that past mergers in the health insurance industry “have severely limited innovation among insurers, such as shopping, mobile health applications and price transparency resources.”
- This merger is also likely to result in “reduce[d] competition in the Virginia marketplace” and premium increases. This should not be allowed to happen “without intense scrutiny.”
- For the health insurance companies, in contrast, the merger will likely be highly lucrative — “combining the second- and fourth-largest insurance companies, the deal would be valued at $54.2 billion.”
- “The Virginia Bureau of Insurance is Virginia’s consumer watchdog and we must ensure the bureau is doing its job to safeguard Virginians’ rights to health care and closely monitor the mergers…Ensuring vibrant competition requires robust examination and Commissioner Jacqueline Cunningham and the Bureau of Insurance must provide true oversight and an open assessment.“
If you agree – as I most certainly do! – with Sen. Surovell and the Virginia Campaign for Consumer Choice, you can take action by clicking here. I’m just glad to see someone taking the side of “we the people” over the big health insurance companies.