The Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today it would call upon the United States Justice Department to stop the proposed merger of Aetna and Wellpoint Health, two of the nation’s largest managed care companies, on anti-trust grounds.
“Too few managed care companies control the health care of too many Americans and this deal would mean that the seven giant companies that control this market would be reduced to six companies and patients, nurses, doctors and hospitals would have even less ability to vote with their feet when they dislike the quality of care at their managed care company than they do now,” said Jamie Court, advocacy director for FTCR and co-author of Making A Killing: HMOs and The Threat To Your Health (Common Courage Press, 1999). “Already Aetna controls the health coverage of one of every eleven insured Americans.”
In his book (www.makingakilling.org), Court notes the seven giant companies controlling the market now are Aetna, CIGNA, United Healthcare, Foundation Health Systems, PacifiCare, Wellpoint Health, and, the only non-profit of the bunch, Kaiser.
“Medical services will be downsized and premiums will soar if this consolidation is allowed,” said Court.
“Many employers who offer both an HMO and a P.P.O. option would be offering only one company’s option and that is not a real choice.”
FTCR opposed the 1999 consolidation of Aetna and Prudential, during which the Justice Department forced Aetna to divest of 800,000 patients in Texas. FTCR also opposed the 1997 consolidations of Pacificare and FHP, and Foundation Health and Health Systems International, where modifications in California were made by state regulators though the mergers were allowed.