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Healthy State tells the stories you need to know to stay well, with a special focus on Florida.We'll bring you the latest fitness trends, new research on preventing and treating disease, and information about how health policy impacts your pocketbook.We report on health using all the tools at our disposal -- video, audio, photos and text -- to bring these stories to life.Healthy State is a project of WUSF Public Media in Tampa and is heard on public radio stations throughout Florida. It also is available online at wusfnews.org.

Aetna Announces $37 Billion Merger With Health Insurance Rival Humana

Health insurance giant Aetna has announced a $37 billion plan to acquire rival Humana.
Health insurance giant Aetna has announced a $37 billion plan to acquire rival Humana.

In what could prove the largest-ever merger in the insurance industry, has announced a $37 billion deal to acquire rival .

The agreement, announced by the Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna, "would bolster Aetna's presence in the state- and federally funded Medicaid program and Tricare coverage for military personnel and their families," according to The Associated Press.

Word of the cash and stock agreement comes a day after said it would pay $6.3 billion to buy . According to the AP, the Centene-Health Net merger "would help Centene expand in the nation's biggest Medicaid market, California, and give it a Medicare presence in several Western states."

Reuters notes that the deal between Aetna and Humana "will push Aetna close to Anthem Inc.'s No. 2 insurer spot by membership and would nearly triple Aetna's Medicare Advantage business," but adds that the agreement still faces antitrust scrutiny.

In theory, a consolidation of the insurance industry in the wake of Obamacare is supposed to lower costs for consumers. But Forbes quotes Martin Gaynor, a Carnegie Mellon economist and former Federal Trade Commission official, as saying: "It's not clear to me, do they get any more scale economies from getting bigger?"

Forbes also quotes Robert Town, a health care professor at the Wharton School, as saying consolidation among giant insurers reminds him "of the airline sector, and I don't think there have been efficiencies gained there."

"The economies of scale in insurance are relatively modest," Town said.

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