Wilkes-Barre-based Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania announced today the signing of a letter of intent with Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc. to pursue a stronger affiliation between the two nonprofit health insurers.
According to a news release, the letter enables the organizations to conduct detailed discussions and perform necessary due diligence, with the goal of creating greater efficiencies and value for the benefit of their members and customers.
“Our two companies have enjoyed a long and successful history of collaboration, providing a solid foundation from which to pursue an even stronger affiliation,” said Denise S. Cesare, president and CEO of BCNEPA. “I am confident that the result of our discussions will best serve the long-term needs of the residents and communities across BCNEPA’s 13 counties — maintained regional presence, representation, employment and enhanced products.”
“Highmark views the northeastern Pennsylvania region and the opportunity to enhance our partnership with BCNEPA as very important to the community,” said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., president and CEO of Highmark Health, the parent company of Highmark Inc. “We are excited about this opportunity and what a closer affiliation can accomplish for the benefit of BCNEPA members in the northeastern and north central Pennsylvania market.”
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, offering health insurance products and administrative services to more than 540,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and northcentral Pennsylvania.
Highmark is a national diversified health and wellness company based in Pittsburgh that serves 33.5 million people across the United States through its businesses in health insurance, dental insurance, vision care and information technology. Highmark is also part of a larger entity that also includes an integrated health care delivery network. The company, which has more than 20,000 employees, is among the largest health insurers in the U.S. and the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated company, operating health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 5.3 million members.
Together, BCNEPA and Highmark provide health insurance plans that serve more than 5.4 million members in 62 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
The companies will have no further comment until the next phase of private discussions has been completed.