Reviewing The First Week Of The Anthem-Cigna Merger Trial
Meanwhile, news outlets also report on the continuing personality clash between device makers and insurers; how employers reward workers who shop around for health care; and what is happening to coal miners' health benefits.
What We Learned In Week One Of The Anthem-Cigna Antitrust Trial
An antitrust trial seeking to block Anthem’s $54 billion acquisition of Cigna kicked off in Washington last week before U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. If the Anthem-Cigna deal is approved, it would create the largest health insurance company in the country. This is the first of two blockbuster antitrust cases taking place in the coming weeks, with Aetna’s proposed $37 billion takeover of Humana headed to court on Dec. 5. The first two weeks of the Anthem-Cigna trial will focus on the health insurance market for large employers with operations in multiple states. Here’s a rundown of what we learned — and what’s still to come — when the trial resumes Monday morning. (Demko, 11/27)
Why Can't Devicemakers And Insurers Get Along?
After a spinal stroke in 2007 robbed Rick Batty of his ability to use his arms and legs, the then 54-year-old agricultural salesman wasn't sure he'd ever walk again. Then he found ReWalk, a battery-powered exoskeleton that uses small motors at the knees and hips to help paraplegics stand up and walk. Activated by the forward tilt of a user's upper body, ReWalk allows users to move their paralyzed legs in a step-like motion. About half the 260 devices currently in use are located in therapy centers, where the sessions are covered by many insurers as normal rehabilitation or gait training. But to own a ReWalk for use at home and around town, there's less financial support. Only a handful of insurers cover the take-home version of the device, for which Marlborough, Mass.-based ReWalk charges $77,500. (Rubenfire, 11/26)
Employers Rewarding Workers Who Shop Around For Health Care
State data show that the price of maternity care and other medical services can vary by many thousands of dollars from one hospital to another, and that price differences are not tied to quality. A commission has been assembled to study the issue. But some employers are seeking to exploit the price discrepancies, offering cash and other incentives, such as free diapers, to encourage workers to choose lower-cost health care services and providers. (Dayal McCluskey, 11/28)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
With Health Benefits In Jeopardy, Coal Retirees Turn To Lame-Duck Congress For A Lifeline
In 1946, President Harry S Truman helped orchestrate an agreement between the United States government and the United Mine Workers of America, guaranteeing health and retirement benefits to unionized miners and ending a nationwide strike. ... Starting Jan. 1, funds for the health care coverage of 22,000 nationwide UMWA members covered under its 1993 Benefit Plan will begin to run dry unless Congress passes legislation known as the Miners Protection Act. About 16,000 of those members would immediately lose their medical benefits and another 6,000 would lose theirs over the course of 2017. Pension funds would dwindle, as well, at risk of becoming insolvent in about five years without a new infusion of cash. (Gray, 11/27)