Effect of WellPoint-Anthem Merger on Consumers Examined
The Los Angeles Times on Monday examined the effect that the recent merger between California-based WellPoint Health Networks and Indiana-based Anthem could have on consumers. Supporters have said that the merger would help limit health insurance premium increases for consumers through "economies of scale," but some health care experts "aren't sure how big a payoff consumers might see," the Times reports (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 12/13).
The merger, completed last month, will combine the companies under the corporate name WellPoint and establish headquarters in Indiana. The merger creates the largest U.S. health insurer, with 28 million members in 13 states. Anthem Chair and CEO Larry Glasscock will serve as CEO of the new company, and WellPoint CEO Leonard Schaeffer will serve as chair (California Healthline, 12/1).
According to the Times, because WellPoint must negotiate separate agreements with physicians and hospitals in different markets, "its size may not matter as much as some might imagine," and health care experts "don't get clear clues about what the future might hold by looking at Anthem's history, either." Although WellPoint members in states such as California, which has competition among health insurers, likely will "notice little difference" from the merger, those in states such as Maine, which has only one nonemployer sponsored health insurer, have begun to face higher premiums, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 12/13).