State officials sign off on acquisition of Rocky Mountain Health Plans

UnitedHealthCare has received state approval to acquire Rocky Mountain Health Plans, converting what was a nonprofit operation into a for-profit insurance business.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar both approved the transaction.

“This deal will allow Rocky to continue to serve Coloradans, particularly on the Western Slope,” Salazar said.

Based in Grand Junction, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and its affiliated entities provide services to more than 280,00 enrollees. A unit of UnitedHealth Group based in Minnesota, UnitedHealthCare serves about 1.2 million people in Colorado.

In announcing the proposed acquisition in July, officials said the deal was necessary to ensure Rocky Mountain Health Plans remained stable even as it pulled back from some markets to concentrate on the Grand Junction area.

As part of the approval process, the Colorado Division of Insurance concluded the transaction wouldn’t decrease competition in the Colorado insurance market and that after the transaction, Rocky Mountain Health Plans would continue to meet financial requirements for a health insurance carrier.

The approval stipulated a number of conditions, however:

The cost of the transaction may not be passed on to Colorado consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums.

UnitedHealthCare will continue to provide insurance coverage for Colorado consumers, especially on the Western Slope, for at least five years.

UnitedHealthCare will continue to support community benefits in Western Colorado for three years at up to $500,000 a year.