The Justice Department is suing to block two proposed mergers between major health insurance companies, saying the deals violate antitrust laws and would lead to higher health care costs for Americans.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch explained the decision at a press conference:
"If allowed to proceed, these mergers would fundamentally reshape the health insurance industry. They would leave much of the multitrillion-dollar health insurance industry in the hands of three mammoth insurance companies, drastically constricting competition in a number of key markets that tens of millions of Americans rely on to receive health care.
"Among other consequences, the number of health insurance options available to nationwide employers would shrink from four to three. Two of the largest and fastest-growing providers of Medicare Advantage plans, which millions of seniors rely on for crucial medical coverage, would combine into just one. And competition would be substantially reduced for hundreds of thousands of families and individuals who buy insurance on the public exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act."
The filed lawsuits challenged a $37 billion merger between Humana and Aetna, which the Justice Department alleges "would lead to higher health-insurance prices, reduced benefits, less innovation, and worse service for over a million Americans," and a $54 billion acquisition of Cigna by Anthem, which the court filing states would be the largest merger in the history of the health insurance industry.