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Blue Cross CEO to step down

Posted February 13

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina President and Chief Executive Brad Wilson announced Monday that he plans to retire from the company later this year.

"Now is a good time to transition leadership to the next CEO, one who will lead Blue Cross through the next wave of health care reform just as I have been fortunate to do for the last seven years," Wilson said in a statement.

A 20-year veteran of the Durham-based insurer, he has served as president and CEO since 2010, leading the company through a period of rapid change in the health care industry – Congress passed the Affordable Care Act around the same time he took the helm of Blue Cross.

Blue Cross has been the only insurer to offer health plans in every North Carolina county through the HealthCare.gov online marketplace, but the experience has been hard on the company's bottom line. Blue Cross lost about $425 million on ACA plans in 2014 and 2015 combined, even as premiums soared, as more people who were older and sicker than expected signed up for coverage. The company considered scaling back its participation in the "Obamacare" marketplace but decided last summer to stay the course.

The spike in sign-ups also created a cascade of problems last year, as thousands of customers were enrolled in plans they didn't sign up for or were overbilled. Customers fumed when Blue Cross didn't respond promptly to their complaints, prompting the company to bring on additional staff for the 2017 open enrollment period.

In an effort to reduce costs, Blue Cross under Wilson's leadership rolled out various tools for consumers to comparison shop for medical care and pushed for more value-based care – focused more on quality of results than on quantity of tests – by creating incentives for hospitals and bundling payments for orthopedic procedures.

Blue Cross also has expanded its push for healthy living, launching Get Outside North Carolina, HIKE NC! and Nourishing North Carolina initiatives. The independent Blue Cross Blue Cross Shield of North Carolina Foundation, which Wilson chairs, has handed out more than $113 million in grants across the state for health and well-being programs.

Wilson also led Blue Cross' move from its long-time home in Chapel Hill to a consolidated campus in Durham to reduce operating expenses.

"The Board of Trustees greatly appreciates Brad's 20-year career of service to Blue Cross and his leadership as President and CEO during this period of transformation in health care and health insurance. As a reflection of his leadership, Blue Cross is well positioned to continue to serve North Carolina and represent our state's interests in the rapidly-evolving health care industry," board Chairman Frank Holding Jr. Holding said in a statement.

The board will conduct a nationwide search for Wilson's successor.

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  • Phillip Holmes Feb 13, 4:44 p.m.
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    Chairman Frank Holding???....I wonder if this is the same Frank Holding as is First Citizens Bank?....just curious