Harvard Pilgrim calls off merger talks

Posted March 04, 2011, at 2:26 p.m.
Last modified March 04, 2011, at 5:40 p.m.

BOSTON — The second and third largest health insurers in Massachusetts have called off merger talks.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan said in a joint statement Friday that the savings and efficiencies envisioned with a merger would have been more difficult than anticipated to achieve, and that integration would have been more expensive than at first thought.

The organizations signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding in January to explore a merger.

The combined nonprofits would have had a combined 1.9 million subscribers and challenged Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest insurer. Harvard Pilgrim also serves New Hampshire and Maine. Tufts also serves Rhode Island.

Harvard Pilgrim Chief Executive Eric Schultz said it was determined that the organizations “are stronger as individual competitors than one company.”