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Pennsylvania Insurance Department Examinations to Focus on Health Insurance Competition
Date:7/17/2009

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Insurance Department will conduct examinations of the state's four Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance companies, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Capital BlueCross, Highmark, Inc. and Independence Blue Cross, to determine if any of them were engaged in anti-competitive or unfair trade practices in violation of the law, Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario announced today.

"When Highmark Blue Shield and Independence Blue Cross withdrew their consolidation proposal earlier this year, it was good news for consumers," said Commissioner Ario. "But it did not improve the anti-competitive dynamics that remain at play in Pennsylvania's health insurance marketplace.

"The purpose of these four examinations is to determine whether there are any anti-competitive practices that violate current law and, if so, to take steps under the law to remedy the effects on competition," continued Ario. "If we discover competitive problems that do not violate current law, an outgrowth of this process could be recommendations for statutory changes to promote more competition in the Pennsylvania health insurance marketplace."

Ario said the examinations, which would be done on a company-by-company basis, would be wide-ranging in collecting data, analyzing agreements, and otherwise investigating competitive dynamics in the Pennsylvania marketplace.

"The consolidation review was forward-looking in determining whether the consolidation would lead to a better marketplace for consumers," said Ario. "These examinations have a different focus in determining whether the status quo gives consumers access to a healthy climate of competition. Competition is always important to consumers in reducing costs and increasing choices, and it will only become more important if Congress moves forward with federal
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance
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