Merger Danger: The Risks of Health Insurance Companies Swallowing Up Competitors

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Merger Danger: The Risks of Health Insurance Companies Swallowing Up Competitors

Sep, 19th 2016

Big insurers are taking a break from the new — figuring out how to pay for value, rather than volume, of care — and going for the tried and true: gobbling up smaller insurers. The action thus far involves national for-profit firms, like the proposed acquisitions of Cigna by Anthem and Humana by Aetna.

Almost nothing excites Wall Street like the intrigue of M&A, and merger proponents are promising lower costs, better quality, and higher stock prices. But if history is any guide, mergers in the insurance industry should give consumers (indeed, all purchasers of insurance) cause for concern.

Will a smaller number of larger health insurers better provide what consumers really want — affordable insurance that meets their health needs? Before addressing that question directly, let’s start with some...

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