WellPoint, Indianapolis, completed its $6.5 billion acquisition of WellChoice, New York, gaining 5 million members and a greater foothold in the Northeast market. The deal comes less than a week after the consummation of another mega-merger, UnitedHealth Group's $9.2 billion purchase of PacifiCare Health Systems. WellChoice, which operates Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is New York's largest health insurer. The deal gives WellPoint, already the nation's largest insurer, about 34 million members in 14 states. WellPoint said it expects the acquisition to have a neutral effect on 2006 earnings but to subsequently add to earnings. The deal also is expected to generate savings of about $25 million next year and at least $125 million annually starting in 2010. WellPoint was created in November 2004 through the $16.4 billion merger of Anthem and WellPoint Health Networks. -- by Laura B. Benko
WellPoint wraps up $6.5 billion purchase of WellChoice
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