United HealthCare and Humana, two of the nation's largest for-profit managed care companies, have agreed to a $5.5 billion merger. The resulting company will operate as United HealthCare in 48 states and Puerto Rico.
The move is one of the largest instances yet of the consolidation taking place in the managed care industry. When con- summated this fall — assuming regulatory and shareholder approval — the merger will create a behemoth with 6 million enrollees, with the majority of them in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest.
Also on the sale-and-merger beat: Kaiser Permanente will unload its money-losing Texas operations to Sierra Health Services. Las Vegas-based Sierra, which already has a solid foothold in the Texas market, will pick up Kaiser's 123,000 Dallas-area subscribers and a 150-physician group for an undisclosed sum.