Aetna, Humana merger nixed in Ohio

Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc., which collectively provide health insurance coverage for more than a half-million Ohioans, have ended negotiations on a proposed $34 billion merger following a U.S. judge’s ruling that the merger would reduce competition and potentially raise health care costs for consumers.

Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini said in a company release Tuesday that “the current environment makes it too challenging to continue pursuing the transaction.”

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The announcement comes several days after another federal judge rejected a tie-up between two other massive insurers. Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem is attempting to buy Cigna for $48 billion. Anthem has vowed to appeal that decision.

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Aetna and Humana announced their deal in July 2015, just a few weeks before Anthem and Cigna said they would also combine. A year later, the U.S. Justice Department sued to block both transactions and won in separate lawsuits, derailing what would have been a massive industry consolidation.

The two deals blocked in federal courts would have melded the nation’s five largest insurers into three, with UnitedHealth Group Inc. currently the biggest.

The Associated Press contributed

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