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(Reuters) — UnitedHealth Group Inc. is planning to leave the health insurer industry's biggest trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, saying it no longer represents the best interests of the company or its customers.
UnitedHealth is the nation's largest health insurer, providing health coverage to about 45 million Americans.
"UnitedHealth Group believes the interest of our company and the customers we serve are no longer best represented by AHIP and accordingly are ending our membership effective June 30," UHG spokesman Matt Stearns said in a statement. "AHIP has set forth a strategy and direction it feels best serves a membership profile and need that does not fit UnitedHealth Group and our diversified portfolio."
The company declined to comment beyond is statement.
In addition to health insurance, UnitedHealth has a large technology business, Optum Inc., and manages pharmacy benefits.
AHIP, whose other members include insurers Anthem Inc. and Aetna Inc. among others, said that it continues to represent the majority of the industry.
"Our board has focused us on the critical issues facing health insurers and the customers we serve, including affordability, high cost drugs, and Medicare Advantage," AHIP Interim CEO Dan Durham said in a statement.
A deal struck between any of the five major U.S. health insurers could cause a domino effect of merger and acquisition activity in the managed care sector, according to Fitch Ratings Inc.