Two Big Health Groups Agree To Merge
With health insurance once again becoming a major national issue, the nations two largest health insurance company trade associations hope that a merger will allow them to speak with a more powerful voice in the health care policy debate.
The boards of the American Association of Health Plans and Health Insurance Association of America agreed to merge pending a final vote by their memberships.
Karen Ignagni, current president of AAHP, will become president of the new association, which will be called AAHP/HIAA until a new name is chosen.
This is the second time the groups have considered merging, but the previous attempt three years ago did not succeed.
Susan Pisano, AAHP vice president of communications, notes there was an incredible amount of interest in a merger three years ago and that interest did not go away.
Pisano adds that there was a strong rationale in favor of a merger three years ago. Companies had diversified their product lines, she says, thus blurring the historical differences between the two associations.
Thus, she says, a merger which made sense three years ago makes even more sense now.
Rob Gilbert, vice president of corporate communications with Fortis and chairman of HIAAs public relations committee, says the timing just seemed right this time.
Gilbert says the associations have relatively little crossover membership. He believes, he says, that only about four companies are members of both associations.
However, he says, a large proportion of both groups are involved in financing and managing health care.