Group Health Inc. and HIP Health Plan of New York, 2 nonprofit health insurers, have agreed to merge.[@@]

The deal, announced just 2 days after WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis, revealed that it has agreed to acquire WellChoice Inc., New York, the parent of the New York City-area Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan, would create a combined carrier with 4 million enrollees in the New York City area, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and some parts of New York state away from New York City.

A governing foundation that would include an equal number of directors from GHI, New York, and HIP would run the combined carrier while GHI and HIP came up with a strategy for combining their operations, according to GHI and HIP.

The combined carrier would have about $7 billion in annual revenue, making it the largest health insurer in New York state, GHI and HIP say.

GHI was established in 1937, and HIP was established in 1947.

GHI Chairman Frank Branchini says in a statement about the deal that the combined company will offer New York City and its suburbs “a strong local company providing a full range of products tailored to the diverse needs of the community.”