The Department of Justice has challenged two major insurance mergers on antitrust grounds and the trial dates are now set for the mergers. Aetna has received a trial date of Dec 5 for DOJ’s antitrust challenge of its merger with Humana. The trial date obviously puts pressure on intended deadline of Aetna to finish the merger before the end of the year, as the court will not be issuing a decision until next year. This will be violating the contractual deadline of the merger and will result in a one billion dollars payout from Aetna to Humana. The merger is valued at thirty seven billion dollars.
The Department of Justice is also challenging the merger of Anthem and Cigna. The merger is proposed to be a fifty three million deal, and the trial date for Anthem is November 21, with a decision on the case expected to be made by January 2017. This deal also has the deadline to be reached by the end of the year, and Cigna has the provision to pull out of the merger if it is not finished by the end of the year.
Both these proposed mergers faced many objections since they were announced, and most of the complaints emerged due to the resulting loss of competition that DOJ expects to happen. The Department of Justice is trying to block the mergers by proposing the January trail date, as they know that the mergers have an end of year deadline. It is true that the judges in each case have offered trial dates before the end of the year, but the rulings will be issued only after January 2017.
In response to the antitrust allegations of DOJ, Aetna and Humana said that their merger would benefit consumers, as operational costs will reduce after the merger, and this will lead to greater savings. They further claim that they would pass the savings to the users. However, this result is not confirmed yet. On the contrary, if both these mergers took place, then many of the insurance markets will shrink to just three major insurance players.