Health

Mega Merger Between Health Insurers Raises Concerns Over Higher Premiums, Job Losses

Wisconsin officials will hold a public hearing Wednesday on a proposed merger between two large health insurance providers,  Aetna and Humana, the latter of which employs more than 3,000 people in Green Bay.

Five other states have already approved the proposed deal but critics say the merger could result in more expensive insurance and job loss.

“We’re talking about employees and their families in the Green Bay area who need those jobs,” said David Balto, a prominent antitrust attorney. “We’re talking about Wisconsin consumers who see better service because there’s a Humana facility in Green Bay.”

Balto noted that insurance commissioners in other states affected by the merger have required the companies to preserve jobs, and he urged Wisconsin regulators to vigorously investigate the impact of the deal.

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association has come out in opposition to the consolidation, saying the Aetna-Humana merger would diminish competition in 14 states, including Wisconsin.

The AMA  said in a statement last fall that patients may be charged higher-than-competitive premiums, and physicians may be pressured to accept unfair terms that undermine their role as patient advocates and their ability to provide high-quality care.

The Wisconsin Office of the Insurance Commissioner hearing Wednesday afternoon in Madison is open to the public.