WASHINGTON, DC –Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) helped pass legislation today that will ensure American consumers get real choice and a fair deal when purchasing health insurance. The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act will eliminate the anti-trust exemption for health insurance companies, requiring them to compete fairly and adhere to the same anti-trust laws as other companies.

“Repealing the unfair anti-trust exemption that health insurance companies enjoy will improve choice and competition for health care consumers across the board,” said Himes. “This unfair practice drives up costs and, left unchecked, will ensure that we continue to pay too much for two little when it comes to our health care.”

For 65 years, the health insurance industry has been legally exempt from anti-trust laws, and the federal government was banned from even investigating evidence of possible collusion. In the last 14 years alone, there have been 400 mergers among health insurers and now 94% of all insurance markets are “highly concentrated” – meaning consumers have little or no choice between insurance providers.

Health insurers that were previously exempt from anti-trust laws will now bear legal responsibility for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, and sabotaging their competitors in order to gain a monopoly in the marketplace. Such practices have been outlawed in other industries for decades.

The legislation is supported by numerous groups including the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumers Union, and the Consumer Federation of America.