Center for American Progress: Aetna-Humana deal will drive up costs for seniors

In a new report, the Center for American Progress predicts the proposed deal between two insurance giants — Aetna and Humana — could increase premium prices for seniors on Medicare Advantage, according to Reuters.

Here are five things to know about the CAP's report.

1. If the insurers combine, the new combined company would be the largest Medicare Advantage provider. Aetna currently owns 7 percent of the Medicare Advantage market while Humana owns 19 percent.

2. Together, Aetna and Humana have 8 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees. Of the 54 million citizens enrolled in Medicare Advantage, about 4.4 million of them are either in Aetna or Humana plans.

3. The CAP analyzed average annual premium costs of both insurers. The organization found Aetna's average Medicare Advantage premiums were $155 less in counties where it competed against Humana, and Humana's premiums were $43 less in counties where it competed with Aetna. Another less conservative analysis found Aetna's annual premiums were $302 lower in counties where it competed against Humana.

4. Aetna said seniors who want to avoid premium increases have other options. Medicare Advantage enrollees could switch to traditional Medicare. "This keeps downward pressure on prices and upward pressure on quality," said Kristine Grow, an Aetna spokeswoman, in an email.

5. The CAP didn't urge the DOJ to stop the merger deal. "All of the available evidence suggests that the bar should be very high for approving these mergers and that they should be stopped absent clear and compelling evidence that they will benefit consumers," the organization said in its report.

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