While Aetna and Humana try to merge, along with Cigna and Anthem, in part to battle the market power gained by the accelerating consolidation among doctors and hospitals after Obamacare, it's worth remembering that regulation drives consolidation everywhere.

Investment News has a long paper on the Obama administration's newest regulation of independent broker-dealers (IBDs). Here's a key part:

In fact, only the largest IBDs are expected to have the resources to build comprehensive compliance programs around the rule's requirements, which include requisites such as benchmarking information to measure the reasonableness of adviser compensation, according to the 1,023-page rule that was six years in the making.
Smaller broker-dealers will struggle with the costs of compliance and may need to pursue mergers to help build scale and the skills they'll need to adjust ...

In the abstract I like the idea of brokers having a fiduciary responsibility to clients. But it doesn't seem to me that reducing competition in the financial sector is a good effect.

Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.