Folding about 80,000 new people into a large insured population is a challenging business, especially when many of the 80,000 have lots of untreated health conditions and have never had health insurance.
Blue Cross has a new leader. On Feb.16, 2016, the Board of Directors of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana unanimously approved the appointment of a new President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Steven Udvarhelyi (say ‘OOOD-var-high). Seldom can any company boast of finding someone who has done as much in his chosen field as our new leader.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has been outrageously blessed with talent over the years (and I’m not even talking about me!) and the 40-year commitment of Mike Reitz to this company, along with decades of time committed by his father before him (Mr. Howard Reitz). Their combined efforts have been instrumental in making Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana the stable, customer-focused entity that it is today.
Of the 4.6 million people in our state, about 1.6 million of them (almost 34%) have a Blue Cross card in their pockets right now. “I have Blue Cross” is something people are very happy to say when they have health needs, need a new prescription, etc. Even for things as simple as their annual check-ups, there is much comfort in saying, when you get asked at the doctor’s office, “I have Blue Cross.”
Just one day after he was inaugurated as our new governor, John Bel Edwards signed an executive order to expand the Medicaid program in our state. There was rejoicing from some, grousing from others and questions from all.
Health insurance companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana have a long history of trying to slow down the rapidly rising cost of healthcare. Over the years, a variety of strategies have emerged. Frankly, we’ve tried lots of stuff. When a company comes to us because their employee healthcare costs are going up too quickly, we try things like cutting out high-cost medical providers, steering people to less-expensive (but equally effective) drugs, raising out-of-pocket costs to discourage non-essential healthcare, and changing the mix between the employer contribution and the employee contribution.