Aetna Threatened To Quit State Insurance Exchanges If Humana Merger Was Blocked

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In a lawsuit seeking to block the merger of health insurance companies Aetna and Humana, the U.S. Department of Justice cited decreased competition on state individual health insurance exchanges as one reason why the merger shouldn’t happen.

Bloomberg News was able to see a copy of the letter thanks to an anonymous source “familiar with the matter.” In it, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said, “[i]f the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint.”

In a statement to Bloomberg, Aetna explained that it didn’t pull out of the health insurance exchanges because the merger was blocked: it pulled out for financial reasons. The company’s argument is that the merger is necessary for financial reasons, so leaving the exchanges wasn’t because of the failed merger.

That’s not to say that the federal lawsuit has been good for the company’s finances, but Aetna sees the current state of things as unsustainable. In blocking the merger, Attorney General Loretta Lynch countered that allowing either or both of the major health insurance mergers that are currently pending to go through would “fundamentally reshape the health insurance industry.” Not in a good way, if you’re a consumer.

The trial will happen in December, and it will be a real nail-biter for people concerned about the viability of the American health insurance system as it stands, and also for people concerned about health care costs.

Aetna Threatened to Quit Obamacare If Deal Blocked, Letter Shows [Bloomberg]

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