WellPoint Health Networks says it has agreed to buy Cobalt Corp., the holding company of Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, for $906 million.
The combined company will have assets of $13 billion and 14.3 million members, according to a statement released by the two companies issued Tuesday.
WellPoint, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., says the Wisconsin Blues will continue to be headquartered in Milwaukee, and the Wisconsin Blues' Medicare Part A claim processing center will become the national headquarters for the combined company's Part A claim processing business.
WellPoint, which now calls itself the nation's second largest health insurer, after Minneapolis-based UnitedHealthcare, has been acquiring regional Blues plans for several years.
Last year, the company acquired RightChoice Managed Care, the parent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri, for $1.3 billion. In 2001, it acquired Cerulean, the parent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia.
But earlier this year, WellPoint's bid to buy CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield for $1.37 billion fell through after Maryland Insurance Commissioner Steven Larsen rejected CareFirst's for-profit conversion.