In a regulatory filing before the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cigna stated that its acquisition by Anthem may not be approved this year, and that it might be pushed back to 2017.
Cigna’s Chief Financial Officer Tom McCarthy told an investors’ conference that the merger has been delayed because “of the depth and complexity of the regulatory process” and that Cigna “probably did underestimate” how extensive the antitrust investigation would be. Nevertheless, he said the delay was not due to any insights or decision from the Department of Justice or state antitrust regulators, but did not elaborate further.
The proposed merger of health insurance giants Anthem and Cigna was announced back in 2015, and it is still being reviewed by the Department of Justice, State Attorneys General, and State Insurance Commissioners. This acquisition has drawn criticism from consumer groups, healthcare providers, and legislators. The Coalition to Protect Patient Choice has expressed its concerns about the merger in multiple states, most recently in Indiana.
In the past few months the Department of Justice has adopted a tough stance toward large mergers, and has not hesitated to bring merging companies to court. The merging companies may have expected this proposed deal to sail through without too much trouble, but there has been an increased focus on the importance of antitrust regulation and the problems of increased concentration in health insurance markets. Organizations such as the Center for American Progress have also conducted studies on the impact of health insurance mergers, and found that they harm consumers. Federal and state antitrust regulators should take this information into account, and work to protect consumers from any ill effects.