Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Delaware court that oversaw the trial between Anthem and Cigna over their botched health insurance merger expects to making a ruling on the lawsuit by the end of this month, Cigna CEO David Cordani told investors Thursday.

Why it matters: Whatever the resolution is, shareholders and people who get health insurance through the losing company ultimately will be stomaching a very large payout.

Where it stands: Anthem is alleging that Cigna owes $20 billion in damages, and Cigna is alleging that Anthem owes $13 billion in damages plus another $1.85 billion in merger termination fees.

Between the lines: Cordani told investors during Cigna's earnings call that the court will make a decision by the end of February, and said "we feel very strong about our position relative to our contractual responsibility and contractual ability to collect our break fee."

  • Anthem did not respond to a request for comment. But Cordani's mention of the $1.85 billion termination fee, and not the larger damages, raises questions about whether the court will put much weight to either company's claims of damages.

The bottom line: This is one of the wildest corporate fights in health care — a spat that involved accusations of sabotage and stealing health insurance customers.

  • Anthem and Cigna are still extremely profitable, with each insurer reporting 2019 earnings of about $5 billion.
  • But if either company has to pay maximum damages, multiyear profits would be erased, and employers and consumers who played no role in the feud could be on the hook for higher health care premiums and fees to make up for any payout.

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