via Wall Street Journal
Five years after the Affordable Care Act helped set off a health-care merger frenzy, the pace of consolidation is accelerating, transforming the medical marketplace into a land of giants.
The trend is under a new spotlight now, as Congress zeroes in on the competitive and cost impact of proposed deals that would collapse the health-insurance industry’s top five players into just three massive companies, each with more than $100 billion in annual revenue. On Tuesday, a Senate subcommittee is set to hear testimony from the chief executives of Aetna Inc., which plans to acquire Humana Inc., and Anthem Inc., which is seeking to buyCigna Corp., as well as the head of the American Hospital Association.
The other big insurer, which isn’t testifying, is UnitedHealth GroupInc.
The managed-care deals parallel what has been happening among health-care providers—2015 is on pace to notch the most U.S. hospital deals since 1999, with 71 announced through the end of August, according to Irving Levin Associates, a research firm that tracks health-care transactions. That comes on top of an already torrid spate of deal-making—in 2010, the year the health law passed, there were 72 hospital acquisitions, up from just 50 the year before. Last year, there were 100.