Nevadas Insurance Commissioner has approved the $2.6 billion merger between Sierra Health Services and UnitedHealth Group, subject to certain conditions. The approval is the first of four hurdles in Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth Groups quest to acquire Nevadas largest health insurer. Arizona, California and the Justice Department, must also approve the deal.
The merger faces fierce opposition from the American Medical Association and labor groups, which said in a series of public hearings in Nevada that it would eliminate competition and ultimately raise premiums and provider fees in the state.
I am convinced that (Sierra's) Health Plan of Nevada will continue to offer the same high quality of products and services that it has historically offered, and that the cost of the acquisition will not be borne by Nevadans, said Nevada Insurance Commissioner Alice Molasky-Arman in a statement late Monday.
Approval is contingent on UnitedHealth and Sierra not passing acquisition costs onto consumers or providers; not raising premiums or provider fees as a result of the acquisition costs; providing continuation of claims handlings; not changing management structures; and helping to curb the number of uninsured in Nevada.
UnitedHealth Group expects the merger to be completed by the end of 2007. -- by Rebecca Vesely