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Blue Shield of California to buy GemCare Health Plan in Bakersfield

Blue Shield of California to buy GemCare Health Plan in Bakersfield
Blue Shield of California tries to enroll people at a recent Los Angeles health fair. The company has agreed to buy GemCare Health Plan. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Blue Shield of California said it has agreed to acquire GemCare Health Plan, expanding its presence in Kern County and the Central Coast area.

Blue Shield, one of the state's largest health insurers, said Tuesday that GemCare customers should see minimal changes at first. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

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GemCare, based in Bakersfield, is owned by hospital chain Dignity Health and the physicians of GemCare IPA.

Blue Shield said the deal would enable it to grow its overall membership and provider networks as well as add Medicare patients in Kern, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties for the first time.

The two companies said the acquisition is subject to approval from the California Department of Managed Health Care.

Blue Shield, based in San Francisco, is a nonprofit insurer with 3 million customers and $10.5 billion in annual revenue.

GemCare said it has 8,000 Medicare members and more than 12,000 commercial customers. It does business in Kern County as GemCare and in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as Physicians Choice Health Plan.

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