NU Online News Service, Dec. 14, 2004, 4:29 p.m. EST

A large health carrier has agreed to pay more than $408 million to expand its Medicare managed care operations.[@@]

Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., says it is acquiring CarePlus Plans Inc., Coral Gables, Fla., and 10 affiliated Florida medical centers to further strengthen its already strong position in the South Florida Medicare market.

Humana has about 131,000 Medicare plan members in South Florida.

CarePlus has 50,000 Medicare health maintenance organization plan members in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.

The deal also includes a CarePlus pharmacy management affiliate.

Humana, which hopes to complete the deal by March 31, 2005, says it will be borrowing about 75% of the cash it needs to pay for the acquisition.

A unit of Bank of America Corp., Charlotte, N.C., is acting as Humana’s financial advisor.