APA Warns of Insurance Mergers’ Effect on Mental Health Parity
The American Psychiatric Association is cautioning regulators on possible mental health care access issues if mergers between some of the largest U.S. health insurers go through, Reuters reports (Humer, Reuters, 9/24).
In July, Anthem announced that it agreed to acquire Cigna for $48.4 billion. The combined company would have about 53 million customers, which would make it the nation's largest insurer in terms of enrollment. Also in July, Aetna announced it reached a $37 billion deal to purchase Humana, which could make Aetna the nation's second-largest insurer.
Federal regulators must approve the proposals, and antitrust experts say the Department of Justice and state attorneys general are likely to scrutinize them closely (California Healthline, 9/11).
Earlier this month, APA sent a letter to DOJ cautioning that consolidation would limit psychiatric provider networks and harm efforts at reaching mental health parity (Reuters, 9/24). APA said it sent additional letters to insurance commissioners and attorneys general in Washington, D.C., and 14 states:
- New York;
- Ohio; and
- Wisconsin (APA release, 9/24).
In the letter, APA wrote that it agrees with the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians that the mergers would limit competition among insurers and raise prices. Further, APA noted that the insurers have a history of poor parity between physical and mental health coverage and inadequate psychiatric provider networks.
"After a thorough investigation of existing practices, we are confident the relevant authorities will be convinced that the merged entities would be a threat not only to consumer choice and pricing, but also to consumer mental health and well-being," the letter said (Reuters, 9/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.