Court blocks Aetna's $34 billion purchase of Humana

A federal judge has rejected health insurer Aetna’s plan to buy rival Humana for about $34 billion and become a major player in the market for Medicare Advantage coverage.

U.S. District Judge John Bates says in an opinion filed Monday that he largely agrees with federal regulators who contended that such a combination would hurt competition.

An Aetna spokesman says the insurer is reviewing the opinion, and it will give “serious consideration to an appeal.”

The U.S. Department of Justice sued last summer to block that deal and another major acquisition, Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem Inc.’s proposed purchase of Cigna Corp. Both cases went to trial late last year. An opinion has yet to be rendered for the Anthem case.