Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem bolstered their response to the Federal Trade Commission's move to block their pending merger, offering a strategy to create a new health insurance product that will be priced at least 10% below the cheapest comparable plan on the market.
The two Chicago-area health systems argued that their proposed merger would not result in higher prices for consumers or a loss in bargaining leverage among insurance companies, nor would it have any other anti-competitive effects.
In a court document filed on March 18 under seal but made public today, they said neither health system on its own could create a new insurance product that would serve as broad of a geographic market at a price as low as the one they propose.
"Despite a more than yearlong investigation and the production of 2.6 million pages of documents, there are no documents and there is no testimony—zero—showing or suggesting that Advocate and/or NorthShore will raise prices as a result of the merger," Advocate and NorthShore claim in the filing.
They urge the court to throw out the commission's request for a preliminary injunction, which would effectively kill the merger.
"If this merger is blocked, Chicagoland consumers will be harmed by losing the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars per individual in the network every year," the health systems said in the filing.
FTC spokeswoman Betsy Lordan declined to comment.