By Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm

The Colorado Medical Society is warning that the merging of Anthem and Cigna and Aetna and Humana could drive doctors away and harm patient care. The mergers would turn four giant health insurers into two: Anthem Inc., which is affiliated with Blue Cross Blue Shield, wants to acquire all outstanding shares of Cigna for $54 billion. Aetna is offering to buy out Humana for $37 billion.

The Warning From the Colorado Medical Society.

Dr. Michael Volz, the medical society president said its members, “overwhelmingly believe, based on their experience with these companies, that the mergers will result in higher premiums, less patient time with physicians, lower reimbursement and reductions in staff.”

Additionally, Volz predicted that the mergers of these giant insurers would force some doctors out of community-based practices and lead others to leave Colorado or retire early.

The Insurers Say the Merger Will Result in More Affordable Health Care in Colorado.

Representatives from the insurance groups disagree with the warning from the Colorado Medical Society. “Expanding access to affordable health coverage is the foundation of our combination with Cigna and will remain Anthem’s top priority,” said Anthem spokeswoman Joyzelle Davis.

Anthem is confident that the proposed merger “will be reviewed on the facts by the DOJ and appropriate state authorities,” she said. “The transition has already achieved key milestones including shareholder approvals and approval in numerous states.”

What Do the Doctors Think?

In the March-April issue of the medical society’s magazine, a survey of Colorado doctors was given and focused on their anxieties about both mergers. Seventy-three percent of those in active practice oppose the mergers, the survey revealed. Seventy-five percent thought that they would bring about higher premiums and 72 percent felt that they would reduce patient access to needed care and payments to doctors.

The mergers need the approval from state regulators and must pass an antitrust review from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

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Olinger, David. “Guild warns pair of insurance company mergers could harm patient care.” The Denver Post. (May 5, 2016). Web.

Colliver, Victoria. “Aetna’s proposed $37 billion health merger under microscope.” SF Gate. (May 5, 2016). Web.

About the Author: C. Schriefer is a nurse-attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. It has a branch office in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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