New Hampshire has joined a nationwide effort to block the proposed merger of Anthem and Cigna, the state’s two largest health insurers.
New Hampshire is one of a dozen states that have signed on to a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging Anthem’s plans to purchase Cigna for $54 billion. The suit alleges the merger would reduce competition for millions of Americans who receive health insurance from their employers or through the Affordable Care Act.
In New Hampshire, the two companies command about 65 percent of the insurance market, covering more than 400,000 members between them.
“We really don’t have a very diverse market in New Hampshire when it comes to the actual insurers who are doing business here,” said David Rienzo, of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. “If the two of them were to become one, the diversity of insurers in the market would become dramatically reduced.”
Attorney General Joseph Foster said in a statement that the merger would result in increased costs and decreased quality of care for New Hampshire consumers.
“New competitors have found New Hampshire to be a difficult market to enter, and if the merger were to take place, it may take years for competition to return to its current level,” Foster said. “In the meantime, to the detriment of New Hampshire consumers, innovation in cost control and delivery of services is likely to suffer.”
The U.S. Justice Department also announced it was challenging a separate deal between two insurers, proposed last year, in which Aetna proposed to purchase Humana for $37 billion. The department’s suit says the two mergers “would reshape the industry, eliminating two innovative competitors — Cigna and Humana — at a time when the industry is experimenting with new ways to lower healthcare costs."
In a statement, Anthem said the lawsuit by the Justice Department and the states “is based on a flawed analysis and misunderstanding” of the health care industry and “inconsistent” with past anti-trust reviews by federal regulators.