NU Online News Service, June 4, 11:25 a.m. – MedUnite Inc., San Diego, an electronic health claims processing consortium, is acquiring the physician network services business of NDCHealth Inc., Atlanta, for a 17.9% stake in MedUnite.

NDCHealth will also have the right to nominate a representative to the MedUnite board.

NDCHealth, an affiliate of National Data Corp., handles electronic claims processing for 100,000 physicians and large numbers of hospitals and pharmacies, according to NDCHealth figures.

MedUnite has been trying to develop a physician claims network of its own, to cut processing costs for the seven insurers that founded it, and help the founding insurers compete with a rival, WebMD Corp., Elmwood Park, N.J.

The founding insurers are Aetna Inc., Hartford; Anthem Inc., Indianapolis; CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia; Health Net Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif.; Oxford Health Plans Inc., Trumbull, Conn.; PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., Santa Ana, Calif.; and WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The insurers started MedUnite in March 2000, when WebMD was in the process of acquiring several large electronic claims submission companies and threatening to take over communications between providers and health insurers.