Fairview merger requires caution

Daily Editorial Board

Earlier this month, Fairview Health Services announced a merger with UCare, one of Minnesota’s largest health insurance providers. This move would expand Fairview’s reach, allowing its insurance to serve more people in the state. 
Fairview says it seeks to combine input from physicians and patients in order to maximize its impact on patient care. However, a string of recent mergers leaves us feeling wary.
In January, Fairview completed a merger with PreferredOne, another large insurance company. Just a few months prior to purchasing PreferredOne, Fairview received the University’s approval to combine with University of Minnesota Physicians, too.
State officials are currently looking to see whether Fairview’s mergers violate anti-trust laws, but signs indicate the deals will probably continue. Nevertheless, we are concerned by the fact that people will have fewer health care providers from which to choose if Fairview continues to buy more shares in Minnesota’s health insurance market. 
Last year, a large national insurance merger between Cigna and Anthem drew much attention and criticism. A Northwestern University study confirmed critics’ fears by showing that health care premiums rise after the number of available providers decreases.
Fairview already plays a large role at our school — it operates the University of Minnesota Medical Center here on campus, serving a large host of students and faculty.
We urge state officials to monitor the Fairview-UCare merger in order to advocate for effective checks and balances that ensure people can have access to inexpensive health insurance for a range of illnesses and conditions.