: Independence Blue Cross has headquarters in Philadelphia.

Highmark's is in Pittsburgh.

Should they merge, the new company will keep both headquarters and open a joint one.

People: According to Highmark's chief executive officer, Dr. Kenneth Melani, the companies have 28,000 employees and insure more than 8 million Pennsylvanians - 57 percent of those insured in the state - making it the third-largest provider in the country.

Money: Blue Cross has a reserve of $1.4 billion; Highmark's reserve is $2.8 billion.

Status: Yesterday's hearing was the first of at least four to be held around the state.

Melani believes the state Insurance Department will approve the merger within a year and it will be complete in three to five years.*

- Damon C. Williams