It's no surprise that the state Department of Insurance has launched an investigation into Pennsylvania's health insurance giants. But there's no guarantee anything will come of it either.
That's based on the fact that the department, even during the Rendell administration, has talked tough before about Highmark Inc. and the other Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurers, their rising premiums and their massive surpluses -- only to leave matters pretty much at status quo.
This time may be different. Last Friday Commissioner Joel Ario said his department will probe the inner workings of Highmark, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Capital BlueCross and Independence Blue Cross to look for anti-competitive or unfair trade practices that violate the law.
Even if the findings fall short of that, he said the department could make recommendations for changes in state law that promote more competition in the marketplace. We're all for it.
The withdrawal in January of the merger proposal by Highmark and Independence after the Insurance Department sought various concessions was welcome news to Pennsylvanians -- and their employers -- who are already finding health coverage harder and harder to afford.
If this investigation puts an end to other anti-competitive forces, then so much the better.