Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts mull merger

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan, both based in Massachusetts, have acknowledged they are considering a merger, with the potential of combining operations in four states, including New Hampshire.The insurers signed a memorandum of agreement that would consolidate business in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island.Wellesley, Mass.-based Harvard Pilgrim has more than 120,000 subscribers in New Hampshire, for a total of about 1 million members in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, with the overwhelming majority in the Bay State, making it that state’s second-largest insurer.Tufts, based in Watertown, Mass., has some 730,000 members in Massachusetts and 10,000 in Rhode Island, and is Massachusetts’ third-largest health plan. Blue Cross and Blues Shield of Massachusetts – not affiliated with WellPoint Anthem plans – is the Bay State’s largest health insurer, with 3 million subscribers.Tufts Health Plan of New England, a former subsidiary of Tufts Health Plan, left the New Hampshire market in 1999, preserving capital for the parent corporation’s business in Massachusetts. At the time, Tufts of New England had 145,000 members in the three states.“The memorandum of understanding that was signed kicks off the exploratory process,” Harvard Pilgrim spokesperson Sharon Torgerson told NHBR. “We believe a regional not-for-profit health plan will create value for subscribers, employers and the communities we serve.”With 40 employees based in Harvard Pilgrim’s Bedford, N.H., office, it is not yet known, what, if any, affect the deal would have on employment there.Torgerson said a timeline for the process was still being developed, but said it would probably be months before any potential definitive agreement would be reached, then months longer for the regulatory process. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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