HARTFORD, Conn., July 3 (UPI) -- Healthcare giant Aetna announced a $37 billion agreement Friday to acquire rival Humana, bringing together two of the United States' biggest health insurers.
The cash and stock deal could make Aetna the nation's second largest insurer, giving the combined company an estimated operating revenue of $115 billion this year and more than 33 million customers.
Under the terms of the agreement, which has already been unanimously approved by the board of directors for both companies, Humana stockholders will receive $125 cash and 0.8375 Aetna common shares for each Humana share.
"The acquisition of Humana aligns two great companies and will significantly advance our strategy of more effectively serving members in a rapidly changing health care industry," Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO, said in a written statement. "This combination will allow us to continue to invest in excellent service for our members and strengthen our partnerships with providers to deliver high quality care at an affordable price."
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in 2016.
The merger is one of several healthcare consolidation deals in the first six months of 2016 and is being looked at as a possible springboard for more as the United States grapples with rising healthcare costs. Earlier this week, Medicaid health plan Centene said it will buy Health Net for $6.3 billion.