(Bloomberg) — Health insurers including WellCare Health Plans and Centene Corp. have offered to buy assets that Aetna may have to sell to gain regulatory approval for its proposed $37 billion takeover of Humana, a person familiar with the matter said.
Tampa, Florida-based WellCare and St. Louis-based Centene have separately bid for Aetna’s Medicare Advantage policies that are up for sale, covering about 350,000 people. Other health insurers are eyeing pieces of the business, the person said Saturday. Aetna, which is based in Hartford, Connecticut, covers about 1.3 million people in Medicare Advantage plans, while Humana, which is based in Louisville, Kentucky, covers 3.2 million.
Aetna presented the divestiture plan on Friday at a meeting with Justice Department antitrust officials. The insurer is seeking to show that there’s sufficient competition in the market for private health plans for the elderly to allow the Humana deal to go forward.
Reuters reported earlier Saturday on WellCare and Centene’s interest in the Aetna assets. Aetna declined to comment, and representatives of WellCare didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Centene doesn’t comment on rumors, Marcela Hawn, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. The company also has a policy not to participate in auctions, she said.
Aetna had been working with advisers to prepare to sell assets worth several billion dollars if it’s able to complete the deal with Humana, people familiar with the plans said last week.
The Justice Department also is scrutinizing Anthem’s proposed $48 billion deal to buy Cigna Corp. Together, the two acquisitions would reduce the ranks of the biggest U.S. health insurers to three from five.