Aetna, Humana assure state regulators merger won’t harm competition

Aetna and Humana execs are assuring state regulators that customers would see lower premiums than expected under their merger.

But some activists want the state’s Office of Commissioner of Insurance to ensure that actually happens.

The $37 billion deal, announced last year, needs approval from both the federal government and state agencies such as OCI.

Aetna has a small presence in Wisconsin, but Humana’s several insurance offerings cover larger amounts of the state’s population. The merger would bring about $1.3 billion in “synergies” nationally through reduced administrative costs and eliminating duplicative functions, the companies contend.

At an OCI public hearing yesterday, Aetna exec Greg Martino said the merger won’t harm competition in Wisconsin. And he said the combined company would “pass along savings to our customers,” through lower premiums “than they would’ve been” and improved quality of services.

“We are excited about this transaction,” said Martino, the company’s assistant VP for state government relations.

Still, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Executive Director Robert Kraig called on OCI to get a solid commitment from both companies that premiums will, indeed, be lower.

“There should be strict scrutiny and rate review for the entirety,” Kraig said, “and any rate increases that are linked to the acquisition, to the merger, in the future should be disallowed.”

See the merger documents