U.S. sues to block health insurance mergers, cites competitive issues

U.S. antitrust regulators moved Thursday to block two mega-insurance mergers, citing the potential loss of competition across the country, including in St. Louis and southern Missouri.

The Justice Department said the two pending multibillion-dollar deals — Anthem’s $54 billion proposed purchase of Cigna and Aetna’s $37 billion planned acquisition of Humana — would cut the number of large national insurers from five to three, unacceptably driving up prices and stifling innovation.

“These mergers would reshape the industry, eliminating two innovative competitors — Humana and Cigna — at a time when the industry is experimenting with new ways to lower healthcare costs,” the Justice Department said in court filings.

The health insurers have argued that the deals would allow them to expand their reach, becoming more efficient and helping check the rising cost of health insurance. But in a news conference to announce the lawsuits, Justice Department officials named several cities across the U.S., including St. Louis and Joplin, Mo., where consumers would be harmed due to less competition among health insurance providers.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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