NU Online News Service, April 1, 2004, 4:54 p.m. EST – Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., has completed previously announced plans to acquire Ochsner Health Plan from the Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans.[@@]

Humana has not announced the price of the deal.

Ochsner Health Plan has 152,000 commercial members and 31,000 Medicare members. It is licensed to operate in all of Louisiana’s parishes.

Humana is buying the plan because it wants to do business in New Orleans and increase its appeal to national employers that have operations in Louisiana.

The Ochsner Clinic Foundation says it is selling the health plan to raise cash for its core medical care business. The foundation is keeping Ochsner Hospital and a network of 25 clinics.

Humana hopes to start offering preferred provider organization plans in Louisiana this summer and to market its SmartSuite program, a package of 6 plan options, to Louisiana employers with at least 100 employees later in the year.