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AMA denounces insurance firms’ merger plans

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Goya Giant I

One of Goya’s “Titan” paintings.

Two proposed mergers of U.S. health insurers  would hurt competition in the  health-insurance sector,  the American Medical Association, the  largest U.S. group representing physicians, said.

The AMA denounced Aetna’s plan to buy Humana and Anthem’s plan to buy Cigna as anti-competitive. Many physicians worry that the new, even bigger insurance companies that would be formed by these mergers would have the ability to force down U.S. physicians’ compensation — the  world’s highest compensation by far for doctors.

The insurers, for their part, assert that  that the deals would let them offer  cheaper insurance by using their increased size to negotiate better prices with physicians and hospitals.

The AMA said that the Anthem-Cigna behemoth  would increase market power in 13 states where the behemoth would sell individual insurance plans and competition would decrease in all 14 states where Anthem currently operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.

The Aetna-Humana combination, the AMA said, would raise anti-competitive issues in 14 states overall.

The American Hospital Association recently said that its analysis of the deals found that they would cut competition.

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