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The JAMA Forum
October 6, 2015

Insurers Again at Odds With Hospitals and Physicians

Author Affiliations
  • 1David M. Cutler, PhD, is the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics in the Department of Economics and Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a member of the Institute of Medicine. He served on the Council of Economic Advisers and the National Economic Council during the Clinton Administration and was senior health care advisor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He also was involved in the debate over the Massachusetts health reform legislation discussed here and is a Commissioner on the state’s Health Policy Commission. He is the author of the recently published The Quality Cure, and Your Money or Your Life (2004). He tweets at @cutler_econ
JAMA. 2015;314(13):1329-1330. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.11886

The longest running battle in medical care is heating up again. I refer, of course, to the struggle between insurers and physicians, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. Recently, Aetna and Humana announced their intention to merge, as did Anthem and Cigna. If these mergers go through, the “big 5” health insurers will be down to the “big 3.”

Physicians and hospitals were not happy with the news. “Given the troubling trends in the health insurance market, the AMA believes federal and state regulators must take a hard look at proposed health insurer mergers,” said Steven J. Stack, MD, the group’s president, in a statement (http://bit.ly/1JFDPmi). Melinda Reid Hatton, senior vice president and general counsel at the American Hospital Association (AHA), said that these transactions “merit the closest scrutiny” (http://bit.ly/1JAFM7N).