Statement attributed to:
Andrew W. Gurman, MD
President, American Medical Association
"The American Medical Association supports the U.S. Department of Justice and the bipartisan group of state attorney generals as they begin today their antitrust trial to block Aetna’s $37 billion acquisition of Humana. A court injunction would prevent Aetna from eliminating head-to-head competition with rival Humana in highly concentrated public exchange markets for the sale of individual insurance in numerous counties across Florida, Georgia and Missouri.
"Blocking this merger would also protect elderly Americans by preventing Aetna from cornering the Medicare Advantage markets. Aetna and Humana are among the 4 largest sellers of Medicare Advantage plans in the nation. Together they would create an insurer Goliath with the market power to raise premiums, lower plan quality, and eliminate choice for a vulnerable population of seniors in the Medicare Advantage program.
"According to an AMA analysis of Medicare Advantage markets, a mega-merger between Aetna and Humana would reduce competition in 19 states where the 2 companies overlap. The loss of head-to-head competition in the Medicare Advantage markets would threaten health care access, affordability and quality, while compromising the ability of physicians to advocate for their patients, a key safeguard of patient care.
"The AMA stands by the conclusion that Medicare Advantage is a distinct product market where competition is important and Aetna’s argument to the contrary — that it competes with the federal government offering traditional Medicare — is a flawed defense of a highly anticompetitive merger. The AMA’s view of Medicare Advantage as a separate market aligns with the view of leading economists. Moreover, California and Missouri regulators opposed the Aetna-Humana deal citing concerns that the merger would substantially compromise competition in Medicare Advantage markets with negative consequences for elderly patients.
"Aetna’s prediction that the merger would create efficiencies and lower health care costs is mere speculation. Facing little if any competition, dominant health insurers lack the incentive to pass along any cost savings in the form of lower premiums. On the contrary, research shows that health insurer mergers actually result in higher premiums. In effect, the costly process of merging two giant health insurers is borne on the backs of consumers.
"Given the troubling trends in health insurance markets, the AMA will continue to advocate on behalf of patients and physicians to foster more competitive health insurance markets that will operate in patients’ best interests."
Robert J. Mills
ph: (312) 464-5970
About the American Medical Association
The American Medical Association is the premier national organization providing timely, essential resources to empower physicians, residents and medical students to succeed at every phase of their medical lives. Physicians have entrusted the AMA to advance the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health on behalf of patients for more than 170 years.