Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Newspaper: Reject insurance merger

Pennsylvania residents have until Oct. 10 to express their opinion on the proposed merger of the state's two giant Blue Cross insurance companies.

Comments should be sent to Robert Brackbill, Chief, Company Licensing Division, Pennsylvania Insurance Department, 1345 Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA 17120. The fax number is 717-787-8557. Brackbill's e-mail is:

The state's biggest newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, says the merger offers few benefits to state consumers, already paying some of the highest health insurance rates in the country because of the lack of competition in Pennsylvania.

From an Inquirer editorial:
After listening to all the differing views on the proposed merger of Pennsylvania's two Blue Cross giants, the state Insurance Department recently got an unbiased report that concluded customers and health-care providers would benefit more if the two Blues would compete rather than merge.

The 192-page report by LECG Inc., an independent health-economics firm hired by the Insurance Department, says that competition between Independence Blue Cross and Highmark Inc. would result in lower premiums and better deals for health-care providers.

The report's findings are supported by basic economics and common sense, and should be taken seriously.

The impact on competition is the key factor that Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario must weigh in deciding whether to approve or reject the proposed merger. Now, Ario's own independent consultant has helped make the case against the merger.

Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

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