Health Care Service Corp. may now insure some of the people who live near this lake in western Montana. (AP photo/Mark Duncan)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana is now one of five Blue Cross divisions operating under the umbrella of Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp.

The companies announced Health Care Service Corp.’s $40 million purchase of BCBS of Montana was completed Thursday.

HCSC owns Blue Cross companies in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas with about 13.2 million customers. The Montana purchase adds 250,000 customers.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana will retain its name and Mike Frank will remain as its president. Employees of the Montana nonprofit became employees of HCSC on Thursday.

The companies say the merger gives BCBS of Montana access to enhanced technology, improved customer service systems, economies of scale and promises to create 100 new jobs in Montana by 2016.

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