Aetna and Humana cited their intent on July 2, 2015, to merge in order to make changes to Medicare Advantage, which covers seniors and people with disabilities. The merger would also have impacted people who get insurance from their employer and those who buy private plans through the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's health care law.
FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, file photo, a pedestrian walks past a sign for Aetna Inc., at the company headquarters in Hartford, Conn. Aetna and Humana are calling off a $34 billion deal to combine the two major health insurers after a federal judge, citing antitrust concerns, shot down the deal.
A federal judge Monday blocked the proposed merger of health insurers Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. on antitrust grounds, a potentially fatal legal blow to the $34 billion deal. U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled the Justice Department had proven its case that the merger would unlawfully threaten competition. The judge said the transaction could mean higher prices and reduced services for seniors who purchase the private Medicare plans known as Medicare Advantage. He also said the merger would harm competition on public insurance exchanges in parts of Florida. Aetna and Humana didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
"While we continue to believe that a combined company would create greater value for health care consumers through improved affordability and quality, the current environment makes it too challenging to continue pursuing the transaction," said Mark Bertolini, Aetna's chairman and CEO. "We are disappointed to take this course of action after 19 months of planning, but both companies need to move forward with their respective strategies in order to continue to meet member expectations. Our mutual respect for our companies' capabilities has grown throughout this process, and we remain committed to a shared goal of helping drive the shift to a consumer-centric health care system."