Centene to buy Health Net in $6.3 billion deal

Centene Corp. announced Thursday it will buy Health Net Inc. for $6.3 billion in cash and stock, bringing together two smaller health insurance companies ahead of expected wholesale consolidation across the health insurance industry.

The deal would give St. Louis-based Centene, which focuses on Medicaid, the largest market share among private administrators of Medicaid. It would also provide Centene a more substantial presence in the California Medicaid program, which is the nation’s largest with about 12 million individuals, and give the company entrée into the Medicare market.

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