The U.S. Justice Department approved UnitedHealth Group's pending $4.9 billion acquisition of Oxford Health Plans, Trumbull, Conn., without conditions. The department's antitrust division said in a news release that it closed its investigation after determining that the acquisition "should not substantially lessen competition in any relevant market." Providers and consumer groups had feared the merger would result in higher premiums and lower reimbursement rates in parts of the Northeast. UnitedHealth is the nation's largest health insurer with 18.3 million members. Oxford covers about 1.4 million people in Connecticut, New Jersey and metropolitan New York. The deal, announced in April, still requires approval from state regulators and Oxford shareholders. The companies said they expect the deal to close in the fourth quarter. -- by Laura B. Benko
UnitedHealth-Oxford merger clears U.S. regulators
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