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Yarmuth Votes to Increase Competition in Health Insurance Marketplace

(Washington, DC) Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) voted to put an end to the antitrust exemption on health insurance companies and create new competition in the insurance marketplace, as the House approved the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act by a vote of  406 to 19. That legislation will give health insurance companies competitive incentives expected to enhance the affordability, quality, and choice of plans available to consumers.

“Currently in Kentucky, one insurance company controls 59 percent of the market. Year after year, that lack of competition means Louisvillians are stuck with higher premiums and fewer choices,” said Congressman Yarmuth. “This legislation is a critical step forward to help create more affordable, high-quality health insurance options for American families in a more competitive marketplace.”

Since 1945, health insurance companies have been exempt from federal antitrust law. Currently, only health insurers and Major League Baseball have such an exemption, and 94 percent of all insurance markets are considered “highly concentrated” – meaning consumers have little or no choice between insurance providers.

In Kentucky, the top two insurers control 69 percent of the market.

Supported by groups leading consumer groups such Consumer Federation of America and the Consumers Union as well as the National Association of Attorneys General, removing the antitrust exemption is expected to increase competition in the marketplace between insurers and contain costs and increase benefits for working families.

The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act would also give the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission the authority to investigate evidence of collusion and price fixing in the insurance industry for the first time in 65 years.