BCBS of Minnesota CEO: 5 thoughts on competing with UnitedHealth, Anthem

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota named former Anthem executive Craig Samitt, MD, president and CEO, effective July 30. In an interview with the Star Tribune, Dr. Samitt discussed the for-profit competitive forces BCBSM faces in Minnesota.

Here are five thoughts from Dr. Samitt:

1. Nonprofit BCBSM had a 45 percent share of Minnesota's Medicare market in 2017, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation cited by the Star Tribune. Dr. Samitt said BCBSM has new products he believes will attract more Medicare beneficiaries.

2. "We have a fierce loyalty to Minnesotans and the communities we serve, which may be unlike some of the national insurers who are in part driven by profits," he said.

3. Dr. Samitt also addressed a rumor he faced upon taking the CEO role. He said people thought he "came in to help navigate the sale of Blue Cross of Minnesota to Anthem," a rumor he said is "the furthest thing from the truth." He added, "No new CEO takes a job to sell themselves to another company."

4. In August, Moody's Investors Service revised its outlook on BCBSM to negative, in part because of for-profit competition in the state. Moody's Investors Service did affirm BCBSM's financial strength and debt rating. Dr. Samitt told the Star Tribune he believes BCBSM's nonprofit mission and long-established brand will help it stand out among competitors like UnitedHealth Group and Anthem.

5. On consolidation in the healthcare sector, Dr. Samitt said, "Speaking as a leader who has led organizations that have been acquired by hospitals or health plans, that vertical integration does not necessarily drive improved outcomes and health."

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