6 observations on growing differences between Anthem-Cigna, Aetna-Humana deals

Two potential payer transactions — Aetna's acquisition of Humana and Anthem's acquisition of Cigna — may be linked in headlines and antitrust lawsuits, but are forging different paths toward attempted consolidation, The Wall Street Journal reports.

As investors gage pending U.S. Department of Justice lawsuits against the two deals, there are key differences marking each case. Below are six observations on the mounting differences between the Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna transactions.

1. While both DOJ lawsuits claim the deals are anticompetitive and could raise healthcare costs, one set of insurers has had their efficiency as one entity called into question. Last month, Indianapolis-based Anthem and Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna accused each other of breaching their $54 billion acquisition agreement.

2. In response, a federal court official recommended last week correspondence between Anthem and Cigna be released, as the documents and emails may reveal the two insurers do not get along and would be ineffective as a single entity.

3. A DOJ block of the Anthem-Cigna deal could heighten the chances the $37 billion Aetna-Humana deal will succeed, as less industry consolidation would exist with Anthem and Cigna operating separately.

4. Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna and Louisville, Ky.-based Humana have not shown the same friction. The insurers agreed in August to sell certain Medicare Advantage assets to Molina Healthcare for an estimated combined $117 million in every county highlighted in the DOJ's antitrust defense. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini and Humana CEO Bruce Broussard believe their agreements adequately address antitrust concerns.

5. Last week Aetna and Humana called for sanctions preventing CMS employees from being witnesses or using documents from the health agency in the DOJ's antitrust case. The payers argued the DOJ held CMS documents for too long and there is no longer enough time for the insurers to use the documents to defend the deal. However, the DOJ claimed the sanctions are an attempt to "derail" their case.

6. On Wednesday, Humana raised its full-year earnings guidance. 

The proceedings will play out over the next few months, as the Anthem-Cigna trial is slated for Nov. 21 and the Aetna-Humana trial is set for Dec. 5.  

More articles about payer issues:
Cigna Medicare Advantage branch president to retire
CMS: Highest, lowest 2017 star ratings for Medicare plans
Blue Shield, NorthBay Healthcare spar over contract issues

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