Wednesday, December 15, 2004
The American Medical Association reports on the November 30th merger between Anthem and Wellpoint. Wellpoint, Inc., as the new company will be called, will cover approximately 28 million members in 13 states, primarily under Blue Cross and Blue Shield brands. The merger makes WellPoint the largest publicly traded health plan in the nation. Naturally, there exist some misgivings about the size and potential new influence of Wellpoint, Inc.
" . . . Donald J. Palmisano, MD, immediate past president of the American Medical Association, criticized mergers such the Anthem-WellPoint deal as potential threats to free trade in health care because they're rapidly reducing the number of competitors vying for business. The resulting few large plans, wielding far greater power, could be in a better position to dictate patient care against doctors' wishes or demand unfair terms when bargaining with physicians, he said.
"The AMA continues to be concerned about the mergers of these large companies, where we have a great concentration of patients under one [owner]," he said. "Twenty eight million covered lives -- we don't feel that's in the patient's best interest.""