The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently put the kibosh on the proposed mega merger between health insurance giants Anthem, Inc. and Cigna Corporation, two of the nation’s four largest insurers. The court concluded that Anthem failed to show how proposed cost efficiencies would offset the harm to competition in affected markets. (United States, et al., v. Anthem, Inc. and Cigna Corp., No. 17-5024 (D.C. Cir. 2017)).
In 2015, Anthem, the second-largest health carrier, which operates the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand in 14 states, agreed to merge with third-largest Cigna, in what would be the biggest-ever merger of health insurers. It would leave Anthem as the surviving company with a controlling share of the merged company’s stock. Within Anthem states, existing Cigna customers could remain with Cigna, but the two insurers would otherwise no longer compete in those states.
The U.S. Department of Justice and several states successfully sued in district court to block the merger on the ground it would substantially lessen competition in affected markets, in violation of the Clayton Act. On appeal, Anthem argued the merger’s efficiencies would outweigh its antiicompetitive effects by reducing the costs of medical claims through lower provider rates, thus lowering Cigna’s rates. The government plaintiffs had argued these projected savings were unverified, not specific to the merger, and would not result in true efficiencies. Continue reading