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Analyst: FL's Conditions For Aetna To Buy Humana 'Pretty Mild'

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Florida regulators tentatively approved Aetna's bid to buy Humana's health insurance companies in Florida.

Florida regulators have approved Aetna’s bid to buy Humana’s health insurance companies in Florida – with conditions.

According to a statement from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, Aetna and its companies must maintain “fair treatment of Floridians with HIV.” Aetna and other Florida insurers had previously been accused of raising the costs of HIV drugs to discourage enrollment. Regulators want stricter financial requirements for the company as well.

There had been talk that regulators could force what’s called divestiture. Basically, in parts of the state where Aetna and Humana together would be too powerful, the state could have forced the insurance company to sell policies to a third, unrelated company. Regulators stopped short, instead writing that forcing the companies to sell polices would be “disruptive to policyholders and short-term in nature.”

So instead, regulators want Aetna to start competing in new parts of the state. They are requiring Aetna to start selling Obamacare insurance policies in five new counties by 2018 and statewide by 2020. The idea seems to be if the state is losing competition in one market, it will gain competition somewhere else.

“The requirements sound pretty mild to me, especially because no divestiture of any current enrollees is required,” wrote Allan Baumgarten, a health insurance financial analyst. “Still possible that the U.S. Department of Justice will push harder on some of these local markets.”

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Florida Attorney General both must still approve the deal. The Florida deal is part of a national merger plan by Aetna, which could be valued at $37 billion.

Reporter Abe Aboraya is part of WMFE in Orlando. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.