Reject Pennsylvania Insurance Merger

David Balto weighs in on why Pennsylvania insurance commissioner Joel Ario should reject the proposed merger of Highmark Inc. of Pittsburgh and Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia.

Health-insurance premiums have increased by more than 87 percent in the last five years, outpacing the growth of other health-care costs. It seems the only entities that profit from the country’s health-care crisis are large insurance companies.

President-elect Barack Obama has cited a lack of health-insurance competition and attributed it to a failure of antitrust enforcement. He has criticized the Justice Department for taking a lax attitude toward health-insurance mergers, noting that "there have been over 400 health-care mergers in the last 10 years, and . . . 95 percent of insurance markets in the United States are now highly concentrated."

This concentration has led to higher prices, more anti-consumer insurance provisions, longer payment delays, less coverage, and poor service.

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