Even with the holiday weekend, it was hard to miss all the news in the world of health insurance. The Aetna / Humana purchase was announced when most of us were taking a break from business, but it caught our attention all the same. This combination follows the Anthem / BlueCross bid to purchase Cigna which was initially rebuffed, but talks continue. . . Assurant has left the health insurance market and is in the process of being purchased. All of this follows the ongoing absorption of Coventry by Aetna.
What does this ongoing activity mean to all of us who are now required to purchase health insurance?
First, hospital and physician groups will continue to merge in an effort to be large enough to bargain successfully with the ever enlarging health insurance conglomerates. Sadly, each time there is absorption of provider offices into hospital systems patients see higher costs for services.
Second, even as insurance carrier mergers are an attempt to keep insurance companies profitable with ever increasing technology and administrative costs, WE THE PEOPLE find ourselves with ever increasing premiums for ever reducing benefit plans.
Third, is there a chance that consumers are at risk of being victimized as fewer parties determine what charges will be covered and at what reimbursement rate? I believe so.
So what can we do? At the least we can each reach out to our elected officials to ask them to consider the implications of all these mergers and acquisitions that are going to produce super mega-companies. Will someone be the watchdog for these Goliaths which will wield incredible power over a very complicated consumer product? Can we ask someone to take responsibility and make sure that the fox is not in charge of the henhouse?
It seems that the time has come for each of us to identify the officials we have elected and find their contact information. If we do not reach out now to ask for their vigilance on these mergers we may all regret it later when we find ourselves unable to afford and / or unable to access the care that we need.
If you need help navigating this ever changing landscape, call us at Czajkowski Dumpel & Associates, Inc. – We are here to help you!