Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. have opted not to fight the decision a judge laid down to block their proposed merger based on the presumption that the $34 billion deal would violate antitrust laws. The two companies will continue to operate as separate entities, though the door is still open for either or both to seek other partners. Had the deal gone through, Aetna would have become a kingpin in Medicare Advantage. The implications for the health insurance industry—and, therefore, healthcare providers such as urgent care operators—are broader, and may be a sign of the changing environment as the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”) appears headed for extinction. Mergers between insurers were almost commonplace in 2015, as payers sought ways to create more favorable economies of scale in order to remain profitable under ACA. For some urgent care stakeholders, the demise of the ACA indicates a return to an earlier era of greater competition among insurers, which could be expected to drive prices down while increasing quality.

Aetna–Humana Merger is Dead in the Water
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