In a letter to the attorney general, the physician organizations outlined their strong concern that the anticompetitive consequences of the merger would negatively impact health care access, quality and affordability in Florida. An AMA analysis found the proposed Aetna-Humana merger would run afoul of federal antitrust guidelines in highly populated metropolitan areas across the state.
"Competition, not consolidation, is the right prescription for Florida's health insurance markets," said AMA President-elect Andrew W. Gurman, M.D. "Less competition in Florida's already consolidated health insurance markets will lead to price increases, not to greater efficiency or lower health care costs. Given the negative long-term consequences of the proposed merger, any remedy short of rejection would not adequately protect 2.4 million people in Florida."
The physician appeal to the attorney general's office follows the conditional consent order issued last month by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR). While state insurance regulators documented the extensive anticompetitive effects of the proposed merger, physicians charge that the consent order relies on flawed arguments that regulation can substitute for competition.
According to the physician letter to Attorney General Bondi, "the OIR appears to have been captured by Aetna's faulty arguments that existing state and federal regulation...mostly solve the competitive concerns and justify very limited remedies that are largely illusory."
The proposed acquisition of Humana by rival Aetna highlights the lack of competition that already exists in most of Florida's commercial health insurance markets. The AMA found 19 of Florida's metropolitan area had two health insurers with at least a 50 percent share of the commercial health insurance market.
Given the troubling trends in the health insurance market, Florida officials have a strong obligation to enforce antitrust laws that prohibit harmful mergers and foster a more competitive market place that will operate in the patients' best interests.