KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City plans to merge with a St. Louis health care system, the two companies announced Wednesday.

Saint Luke’s and BJC HealthCare, which itself is a former merger of Barnes Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, have signed a non-binding letter of intent to form an integrated health care system across the state.

The two health systems said the merger will allow them to expand health care access to more than six million Missouri residents.

“The organizations are coming together to advance their vision of becoming the premier Midwest destination for patient care, clinical research and medical education and the region’s most exceptional place to work and practice medicine,” Saint Luke’s and BJC said in a release Wednesday.

The two health systems said they’re working toward a definitive agreement in the next few months and expect to close on the deal, pending regulatory review, by the end of the year.

Even after the deal is finalized, Saint Luke’s and BJC will continue to serve their individual markets and maintain their existing brands while operating from two headquarters in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Saint Luke’s Health System has 14 hospitals and over 100 primary care and specialty offices across Kansas and Missouri, including the Kansas City area.

BJC HealthCare includes 14 hospitals and multiple health service organizations in the greater St. Louis area, southern Illinois and southeast Missouri. Barnes Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals are also affiliated academically with the Washington University School of Medicine.