The largest insurance company in North Carolina is expanding. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced it’s combining with Cambia Health Solutions, which provides coverage in four northwestern states.
More than 3.7 million people in North Carolina have insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield. The company will keep its name locally even though the two are combining management and operations. Blue Cross CEO Patrick Conway will become CEO of Cambia.
“I think the exciting part is, you have that local connection but now we will be able to partner with and utilize best-in-class services across the entire affiliation, invest together in new technologies to benefit our customers,” said Conway.
Cambia isn’t just a health insurer. It’s made of 20 companies with 70 million customers in health care IT, medication pricing and chronic care. Its insurance business is a fraction of that with 2.6 million customers in Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Washington. This broadening into other portions of the health care market is what Lisa Bielamowicz with the health consulting group Gist Healthcare, expects to continue.
“These two organizations coming together gives them a size and a gravity that allows them to diversify not only across markets," Bielamowicz said. "But also gives them the ability to invest in different types of services similar to what [UnitedHealth Group] and Aetna have done."
Like investing in doctors’ groups and urgent cares. These two companies have been jointly investing in other all types of healthcare companies through a healthcare investment company called Echo Health Ventures founded in 2016.
"The announcement that we made today is really an outgrowth of that," Cambia CEO Mark Ganz said, "Kind of the next phase almost of our relationship."
Blue Cross is still planning sell plans on the health insurance marketplace. It’s the only company that does in all 100 counties in North Carolina. Blue Cross also has the majority of the large group market in the state as well. An analysis by Kaiser Family Foundation found in 2017 the company had 63 percent of the market share. The deal will be subject to regulatory approval in multiple states.