Why Humana's merger with Aetna was blocked

Cigna and Humana reportedly are in talks to merge in a deal that could be finalized by the end of 2023. Both companies were involved in potential mergers in 2015 that were later blocked by federal judges: Cigna with Anthem (now Elevance) and Humana with Aetna. 

Here is a closer look at why the Humana-Aetna deal was blocked:

The Humana-Aetna deal revolved largely around Medicare Advantage, according to a Jan. 23, 2017, report from The New York Times. Washington, D.C., federal judge John Bates ruled that he mostly agreed with the Justice Department's argument that the deal would lessen competition for Medicare Advantage plans and individual health insurance sold in state marketplaces.

He added that government regulation would be unable to prevent the combined company from raising prices or reducing benefits. He also said new competitors or divestitures would not be enough to address that concentration that would result from the merger, according to the report. 

The payers argued that the merger would enable them to become more efficient and pass savings on to customers, but Mr. Bates said he was "unpersuaded that the efficiencies generated by the merger will be sufficient to mitigate the anticompetitive effects for consumers in the challenged markets." 

Aetna later was acquired by CVS Health. 

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