Kaiser Permanente to acquire Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative

SEATTLE -- Kaiser Permanente announced Friday that signed an agreement to acquire Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative, pending board and regulatory approvals.

The combined company will expand Kaiser's reach adding nearly 590,000 members. The company already serves about 10 million people across the country.

According to a news release, there would be no immediate changes to the coverage offered by either organization. The transition could take up to a year.

“Throughout our history we have made decisions driven by a commitment to advance our mission and serve those who trust us with their care,” said Scott Armstrong, president and CEO, Group Health Cooperative. “After an exhaustive process, we recognized that there was a unique opportunity to accelerate our growth and potential through a vastly deepened relationship with Kaiser Permanente by tapping into their exceptional resources, skills, track record and reach. Through this acquisition, we’ll better be able to tackle rising health care costs and implement even more powerful technologies to serve our members.”

If approved, Group Health will become fully integrated with Kaiser Permanente operating as a new eighth region.

Washington Insurance Commission Mike Kreidler said he would scrutinize the deal "very closely."

He told The Seattle Times he was concerned about protecting consumers in Washington state.

The Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente has $60 billion in annual revenue and operates in seven regions, including Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, the mid-Atlantic states, Northern California, Southern California and the Northwest, including Oregon and parts of southwest Washington.

Click here for a fact sheet with more information.

The Associated press contributed to this report.