Sarah Lueck: Touted Benefits of Insurer Mergers Yet to Be Proven

Insurer consolidation results primarily in higher premiums, and that the advocated benefits of these mergers has yet to be proven, according to Sarah Lueck, senior policy analyst from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Insurer consolidation results primarily in higher premiums, and that the advocated benefits of these mergers has yet to be proven, according to Sarah Lueck, senior policy analyst from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Transcript (modified)

What have been the findings on consolidation in healthcare?

I think with mergers among health insurers, that there are definitely reasons to be concerned about what the impact is on premiums. And I think there’s research showing that when there are fewer competitors in a market that can result in higher premiums, or when there are more competitors in the market that can lower premiums. So any kind of shuffling around of that raises some concerns about what the impact would be on consumers.

With provider consolidation I think maybe it’s more of a mixed bag. And certainly with insurer consolidation, you know, the insurers that want to do the recently announced mergers are saying that there are going to be administrative efficiencies, or there is going to be better job managing care for consumers, and that there are going to be improvements.

So, if one or more of those mergers [Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna] do go through, and we can see the benefits of it, maybe that will prove their point. But so far we haven't seen that evidence.