Insurance hearings begin

    Starting tomorrow, the public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposed merger between Pennsylvania’s two largest health insurance companies. Some are concerned the companies have not provided enough information to give a proper opinion. From WHYY’s health and science desk Kerry Grens reports.

    Starting tomorrow, the public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposed merger between Pennsylvania’s two largest health insurance companies. Some are concerned the companies have not provided enough information to give a proper opinion. From WHYY’s health and science desk Kerry Grens reports.

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    Transcript:

    Independence Blue Cross and Highmark are poised to form the largest merger in state history, and the Pennsylvania insurance department wants to know what stakeholders like hospitals, employers and advocates for the uninsured think about it. Jonathan Stein, an attorney with Community Legal Services is concerned that information about the merger asked by the insurance department has been kept confidential.

    Stein: “No one in the public, no one in the media can even see the answers of many of the most critical questions in this whole merger that these blues attempted to answer. One doesn’t even know if their answers are adequate.”

    Stein points out the projected salaries of executives after the merger were not disclosed, nor were the anticipated surpluses generated by the merger. Chris Butler is Idependence Blue Cross’s chief operating officer.

    Butler: “We’ve asked them to keep only info that we consider proprietary and confidential from a strategic standpoint and any other informoation, including officer compensation etc, those are things that haven’t been worked on yet.”

    That’s what skeptics of the merger are concerned about. The hearings, which will be webcast by the insurance department, begin in Pittsburgh, and continue in Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

    More Info: Information on the hearings

    Insurers’ answers to Insurance Department questions

    Proposal from Independence Blue Cross and Highmark

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