The $54 billion merger between rival medical health insurance giants Anthem and Cigna is underneath the regulatory microscope – and antitrust officials can't stand what they see, sources tell The Post.
Anthem and Cigna would be the 3 big American insurers serving those who are self-insured, and regulators are concerned that combining them can lead to higher prices, based on sources near to the Department of Justice's review.
“I feel there is a excellent chance Cigna gets blocked,” one source said.
Another source said there are “headwinds,” adding that it was too early to say the deal is in trouble.
In a worrisome sign, Cigna said earlier this month the deal might not be approved this season, even while Anthem insisted it was still on track to close within the other half of this year.
The merger needs approval in the Justice Department in addition to state insurance regulators.
The DOJ is not clear about the timing for completing its review but will probably take at least some more months, giving the companies time to win over regulators, sources said.
“We expect it to be a long, complicated review process,” Cigna said in a statement to The Post.
Anthem did not return calls. The DOJ declined to comment.
Anthem struck an offer in July to purchase Cigna, becoming the most recent big US health insurer to propose a blockbuster merger, together with Aetna's pending acquisition of Humana.
Cigna has 11 million self-insured customers, and Anthem an identical number. Obamacare can also be prompting more employers to turn to more affordable self-insured company plans.
Anthem's shares rose 1.5 percent to shut at $135.73 on Friday. Cigna shares rose 2 percent, to $131.28.