Consumer Action joins coalition to keep health care competitive

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Washington, DC – With large insurance mergers Anthem/Cigna and Aetna/Humana threatening consumers’ access to health care as well as health insurance affordability, a group of consumer advocates, employers and unions today launched the Coalition to Preserve Patient Choice (CPPC). The group aims to educate policymakers and the public on the importance of keeping health care competition.

“Consumers throughout the country are facing fewer choices and higher costs because of a tsunami of mergers and anticompetitive conduct,” said Ken McEldowney of Consumer Action. “Our coalition plans to put a spotlight on this conduct so enforcers and policy makers can do their job in protecting consumers.  We are starting by taking a hard look at the ongoing health insurance mergers, which threaten to reduce consumer choice and increase premiums.  But we plan to go on to look at other areas where consumers are paying more for less choice.”

“Every day employers and unions battle to provide low cost, high quality health care to their employees and retirees,” said Audrey Browne, General Counsel of DC 37 a major New York City public employee union.  “The members of the coalition know first hand how a competitive market is vital to delivering that goal and we will work tirelessly to help protect competition in the market.”

Today, there are only five national competitors -- UnitedHealth, Anthem, Cigna, Aetna and Humana. This makes health insurance markets already highly consolidated and insurance premiums are increasing because of it.  The Department of Justice, State Attorneys Generals, State Insurance Commissioners and Congress are investigating the Anthem/Cigna and Aetna/Humana mergers.

The CPPC believes these mergers should be challenged or patient choice will suffer. In fact, studies have shown previous health insurance mergers resulted in increases ranging from 7 percent to nearly 14 percent.  The argument that health insurers drive down health costs has no impact on consumers -- historically, no savings are passed along to consumers. Instead, insurance costs rise for employers, individuals and families.

The website will provide resources for policy makers, enforcement officials, the press and the public to educate and inform the debate about these mergers.  The website includes a U.S. map showing states that will experience the greatest health insurance challenges should the mergers be allowed as well as additional resources including studies, fact sheets, Congressional hearing highlights and more.

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About the coalition
CPPC cares about health care competition so consumers can keep their choice of caregiver, needed prescriptions and other elements essential to individual health.  With large insurance mergers threatening access and affordability, the CPPC is a group of consumer advocates uniting to fight these big mergers and preserve patient choice.  Learn more at the Coalition to Preserve Patient Choice website.