March 27 (UPI) — U.S. Health insurer Centene announced a major acquisition Wednesday involving a rival healthcare company in a deal worth more than $15 billion.

Centene said it will buy WellCare Health Plans, a smaller competitor, for $15.3 billion in a cash and stock deal, the companies said. The price puts WellCare’s stock value at $305 per share, a 32 percent premium to the Tuesday closing price. WellCare’s market capitalization closed at $11.6 billion Tuesday.

The combined company would have about 22 million members in the United States and its revenues could approach $100 billion.

“[This deal] is committed to helping people live healthier lives … and provides access to high-quality healthcare,” Centene CEO Michael Neidorff said in a statement.

WellCare CEO Ken Burdick said the companies will have a focus on the government-sponsored healthcare market — mainly Medicare and Medicaid. WellCare receives less than 20 percent of its members from Affordable Care Act exchanges.

The companies said the agreement means more cost savings to members and expand Centene’s national reach.

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