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Editor's Blog

Having and Eating Cake

Insurers might find Congress won't be willing to embrace antitrust exemptions AND the open market some segments of the industry crave.
I feel it's necessary to again remark upon the industry's fear that its treasured exemption from federal antitrust laws. This week, we report on statements from the Antitrust Modernization Commission, which favors a review of the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, and insurers' response, which boiled down to "Well, they don't know what they're talking about."
While I agree that the broad scope of the AMC's report (it takes into account exemptions for several industries, not just insurance) might have limited the insight it could have into the particulars of McCarran-Ferguson, I find it ironic that the Commission makes such glowing statements about the value of free-market competition. These mirror comments that segments of the industry have made and such an endorsement of deregulation would normally make insurers wriggle with delight. However, coupled with an attack on the precious antitrust exemption, it becomes a fearful proposal and the industry may find that it cannot have both an exemption and the open market it desires.

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