Insurance Dept. approves United-Health Net acquisition

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Not surprisingly, the CT Insurance Dept. (CID) has approved United Health’s proposal to purchase information on all Health Net members, past and present. Advocates and providers have raised grave concerns about the merger including privacy of sensitive health information, consolidation in CT’s already anti-competitive insurance market, and large increases in premiums for consumers and small businesses. Health Net will no longer be offering health insurance in CT; United has proposed paying millions to buy Health Net’s list and information on members. In defending their decision, CID maintains that if Health Net members who are offered coverage by United aren’t happy, they can shift to another plan. The only problem is that every one of those consumers always had the option of choosing United for their health care and rejected them. It is not clear that United was everyone’s second choice. Defaulting them into United or dumping them into an even more hostile insurance environment with one less choice is no favor. Based on CID’s softball questions to the insurers and refusal to allow us a voice as interveners, it was clear to this observer that the outcome was decided before we entered the hearing. The Attorney General’s office is investigating the proposed merger for anti-trust violations.
Ellen Andrews