My health insurance provider is merging. Should I be worried?

I get my health insurance thru work, from Cigna. The other day I found out that they’re being bought up by Anthem. (Story here.) The merger hasn’t been approved by the Feds yet, but let’s assume they sign off on it.

Should I be concerned about this? To put it another way, what kind of reputation does Anthem have? I’m concerned that we might end up seeing some combination of higher prices, lower coverage, or bad service (ie, making you jump thru all kinds of hoops, or generally jerking around their customers).
What kind of experiences do Dopers have with Anthem insurance?

Anthem is a part of Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Be mindful of in-network vs out of network providers, and unless you have unusual needs, Anthem will probably be a fairly transparent insurance company. Assuming you have regular commercial insurance, rather than through a state exchange, Anthem BCBS is almost universally accepted.

We’ve been with them for the past three years and other than the occasional hiccup like a claim denied because someone spelled a doc’s name wrong, it’s been trouble-free for us. One nice thing is that they’ve provided us with a nurse/claim manager, so we have a dedicated point of contact in case of troubles while navigating the complexities of cancer treatment. Honestly, though, the claims have been rolling through the process so easily that we don’t really need her assistance.

My only serious gripe with them is that they still consider artificial spinal disks experimental, while other carriers seem to be just fine with them. United Health Care didn’t even flinch when I had one implanted four years ago.

I was just switched on 1 January from Anthem to Cigna by my employer; that Anthem is buying Cigna is the best news I’ve heard in ages. I was heartbroken to learn that we were switching; ever since I was born (mumble) years ago, I’ve been covered by BCBS or a subsidary of them, and have never, ever had a problem. Cigna’s reviews online are less than positive.

In your shoes, I wouldn’t worry.

[Well. Sort of. It’s complicated.](the suburbs of Chicago)

Link failed.

Trying again.

  • change +

=Yes. Your coverage will change in a way that is less useful for you, and your premiums will increase.

I have no idea how you come to that conclusion since you have no way of knowing:
-His current Cigna coverages
-His current Cigna rates
-His potential Anthem coverages
-His potential Anthem rates

Unless this is a general rant about mergers never being good for the consumer, which is incorrect.

That describes my situation since the ACA, and I haven’t changed providers.

It’s a general rant about the health insurance industry.

Actually, it describes my situation as well. I’m mainly interested in finding out if Anthem is a good company or not, since I presume next year we’ll be moved to one of their programs.

I’m a little disheartened to learn about the Blue Cross connection, because frankly my experiences before were that Blue Cross was always rather expensive. I’ve heard many stories of people having to fight with their insurance company to get something covered, and I’d like to know if I should expect that sort of treatment from Anthem, or if they let the doctors make their own decisions.

Two different points:

  • You likely have years before you would feel the effects of the merger. The DoJ still has to approve it, which could take until the end of this year. Then there will be workforce changes/consolidations internal to the merged comnpanies to realize near-term cost cutting. Finally there will be exploration of the merging of member populations and the systems they exist on. Anthem is comprised of 14 or so BCBS state-focused plans, e.g., BCBS of Indiana, of Georgia, etc. To this day, systems integration is slow-going.

  • As a completely sepearate topic, folks are going to see changes in health benefits pricing - likely some dramatic swings over the next few years. The Health Plans are trying to “tune” their models to reflect the changes required in Obamacare, but it is like adjusting Hot and Cold temps on the fly while taking a shower. Right now, there is HUGE demand being put on the healthcare system by the individuals newly-signed up in Obamacare. Folks have waited years - decades - to get healthcare because they had no insurance. So there is a big spike in usage, which is leading Health Plans to report, accurately, that their new products are unprofitable. But they will adjust, and demand will level off - but that will take a few annual cycles. Until then, they will likely push for big increases in rates and / or amount of deductibles.

The 2016 election will have huge implications for the path of this, either continuing down the same path, which will be complex enough, or pivoting to a whole new path which will be chaotic.

Hope this helps.

It’s too early to assume anything. Even if the merger goes through, there’s no guarantee your Cigna plan would convert over to an Anthem/BCBS plan. Anthem could hold it as a separate operating company or something like that. There’s all sorts of provider network contracts involved. Etc.

I think it’s more likely that Cigna customers won’t notice a change at all (or hardly).

If your coverage is offered through your employer, your employer makes the decisions regarding that coverage. Rates will likely increase - but for no other reason than rates ALWAYS increase year to year (and have done so for decades, long before “Obamacare”).