By Ann Hogan, Class of 2018
In July of 2016, the Department of Justice brought suit to block the $54 billion merger of Anthem and Cigna. In the complaint, the DOJ alleged, “Anthem’s purchase would eliminate it as a competitive threat and substantially lessen competition in numerous markets around the country. The harm to competition in any one of these markets is sufficient to enjoin the transaction.” If the DOJ is unsuccessful and Anthem and Cigna are allowed to merge, it would become the largest health care provider in the nation. “Anthem has argued that the deal would save health insurance customers over $2 billion in medical costs because Cigna customers will be able to access discounts that Anthem is able to offer its customers.”
However, on February 8, 2017, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the DOJ stating, “it would violate antitrust law for the second- and third-largest health insurers in the U.S. to combine.” The company made a statement that it, “promptly intends to file a notice of appeal and request an expedited hearing.”
Two weeks prior to Judge Jacksons’ ruling blocking the Anthem-Cigna merger, Judge John D. Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia blocked the Aetna and Humana merger on antitrust grounds. Judge Bates wrote, “the court is unpersuaded that the efficiencies generated by the merger will be sufficient to mitigate the anticompetitive effects for consumers in the challenged markets.” It seems that the judges side with the DOJ’s view that the merger of the top two companies would not be beneficial to consumers.