Shares of health insurers from Cigna Corp. to Aetna Inc. surged on speculation that the industry is heading for a round of mergers to boost profits.

Anthem Inc. has explored a takeovers of smaller health- insurance rivals Cigna and Humana Inc., a person with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. In a third possible combination, Humana has also drawn interest from Aetna Inc., another person said.

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