Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan to merge

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan announced Wednesday plans to merge in an effort to "harness the combined strengths" of both organizations.

The merger would combine two large, nonprofit Massachusetts-based health plans and would allow them to more effectively address growing cost concerns and expand product portfolios, officials at the health plans said in an announcement.

The joint health plan's board will be made up of an equal number of Tufts and Harvard Pilgrim members and will be chaired by Joyce Murphy, who chairs Harvard Pilgrim's board, officials said.

Tufts Health Plan CEO Tom Croswell will take over as CEO of the new company, while Harvard Pilgrim CEO Michael Carson will take on the role of president.

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The joint insurer would serve 2.4 million members in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire and would offer both employer-sponsored and government plans.

“Our communities and consumers today face four major hurdles in health care: affordability, access, quality of health and a fragmented health care experience across various stakeholders and health systems. Through our shared vision, we believe we can tackle these issues and bring more value to the communities we serve,” said Croswell.

The deal was approved by the boards of both insurers and is pending regulatory approval.

Harvard Pilgrim previously explored a merger with Partners HealthCare, Massachusetts' largest provider system, though the deal fell through in late 2018.