Today, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division filed suit to block the acquisition of innovative, disruptive rival Change Healthcare by UnitedHealth Group (UHG). UHG is parent of United Healthcare, one of the largest commercial health insurers in the United States.
“AAI congratulates the Antitrust Division for bringing this lawsuit,” said AAI President Diana Moss. “This is strong antitrust enforcement and a watershed in recognizing the intersection of competitive concerns around digital data and healthcare.”
In May of 2021, AAI sent a letter to the Antitrust Division outlining the likely anticompetitive effects of the UHG-Change Healthcare merger and urging them to move to block it. AAI’s letter was widely cited in the media and discussed in the antitrust and healthcare communities.
Today’s government complaint alleges anticompetitive effects from both horizontal and vertical aspects of the acquisition. On the horizontal front, UHG’s acquisition of Change Healthcare would create a dominant firm in the market for “first-pass” medical claims editing. On the vertical front, the complaint alleges that the acquisition would give UHG “broad” access to rival health insurers’ competitively sensitive data through first-pass claims editing and electronic data interchange (EDI) clearinghouse assets controlled by the merged company. The merger would also allow UHG to drive up rival health insurers’ costs by denying them access to innovative products and services.
The complaint alleges that UHG’s acquisition of Change Healthcare would harm competition in the markets for claims editing and commercial health insurance, leading to higher costs, lower quality, and less innovative commercial health insurance for employers, employees, and their families.
“U.S. consumers and medical providers have been pummeled by the exercise of market power stemming from rampant consolidation and the emergence of dominant firms in healthcare markets,” said Moss.