While hospitals merge in order to build a better and more durable continuum of care for patients, the motivation behind insurer consolidation is quite different, writes Melinda Hatton, AHA senior vice president and general counsel, in an AHASTAT blog post. “Despite fears that hospital mergers would raise prices hospital price growth is at an historic low, down to 1.4% in 2014 from 2.2% in 2013 – the slowest rate since 1998,” she notes. “The recently announced deals involving four of the five largest commercial health insurers are a different kettle of fish. Insurers, not patients, will be the primary beneficiaries if these deals are approved. By acquiring their rivals they avoid competing it out for subscribers by offering them lower prices, greater options or more flexibility…. Hospital realignment is essential to providing patients with high-quality, well-coordinated care, and it’s contributing to lower cost growth. The health insurance world is already highly consolidated, and we believe that these acquisitions will not benefit patients.”