June 16, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Commercial Payors Payor Issues and Reimbursement
The California Medical Association (CMA) and its more than 41,000 members applaud today’s announcement by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones of his opposition to the merger of health insurance giants Anthem and Cigna, a proposed union that would not only impede patients’ access to providers, but also hinder physicians’ ability to provide care.
“The consolidation of these corporate behemoths would create a monopsony in health insurance markets, resulting in less timely access and less affordable health care,” said CMA President Steven Larson, MD, MPH. “We commend Commissioner Jones for opposing this merger and defending access to high quality care for California’s patients.”
An overwhelming 85 percent of physicians oppose the Anthem-Cigna merger, according to a recent CMA study. Of physicians surveyed from 989 practices in California, the majority expressed that the health insurer union could narrow physician networks (82 percent), force physicians to provide fewer services (90 percent) and pressure physicians into refraining from aggressive patient advocacy (75 percent).
Additionally, a growing body of peer-reviewed literature demonstrates that greater consolidation among health insurance companies leads to increased health insurance costs.
“Surrendering market power to one corporation does not bode well for California’s patients,” said Dr. Larson. “Without competition, the health insurance companies will run unchecked. For the sake of those who desperately need medical care, we must not let this happen.”
CMA has long been concerned with the consolidation of health plans and health insurers, and the reduction of competition. When market power is consolidated among just a few companies, insurers contract with fewer physicians, limiting choice for patients, increasing wait times for referrals, and sometimes forcing them to pay more to see out-of-network doctors. Physicians across the country worry that the hardball tactics undertaken by these insurance companies demonstrate that they put profits before patients.
The CMA survey was conducted in collaboration with the American Medical Association and spanned across 47 California counties. Respondents represented a variety of specialties and practice sizes.