AXA S.A. is jumping into the U.S. benefits administration market.

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The Paris-based insurer has agreed to acquire Maestro HealthcareTechnology Inc., a Chicago-based benefits administrator, for $155million. AXA hopes to complete the deal by March 31.

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AXA is a major provider of private health insurance outside theUnited States, but it's best known in the United States as a lifeinsurance and annuity issuer.

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Maestro, which was founded in 2013 and is backed by privateinvestment firms, has about 300 employees.

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Maestro aims at large employers with self-funded health plans. The company and itsmaestroEDGE benefits system serve about 500 groups with 1 millioncovered lives, according to Maestro.

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The company can handle benefit plan enrollment, health planadministration, wellness program and chronic condition programmanagement, health savings account (HSA) administration, benefitsproduct billing, and Affordable Care Act compliance services.

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Maestro will keep its name after the deal is completed andoperate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AXA, Maestro says.

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Guillaume Borie, AXA's chief innovation officer, said in astatement that AXA likes the idea of pursuing a population healthmanagement strategy in the U.S. market.

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The Maestro deal "provides an attractive opportunity to buildour presence in the U.S. health care market with a new businessmodel that has the potential of improving health care quality formillions of employees," Borie said.

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AXA's deal announcement comes on the heels of Tata Consulting's move to jump into the U.S.insurance administration market by setting up a largeadministration program for Transamerica.

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Allison Bell

Allison Bell, a senior reporter at ThinkAdvisor and BenefitsPRO, previously was an associate editor at National Underwriter Life & Health. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She can be reached through X at @Think_Allison.