Health care rules and regulations are continually changing, and insurance companies in the Greater Lehigh Valley and beyond work to stay ahead of the curve to serve their customers.
One company that has had a strong presence in the region is Highmark. Here to answer this week’s “Behind the List” questions is Dan Day, vice president of large group accounts at the health insurance provider.
Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Highmark been operating and what are its primary services?
Dan Day: Highmark and its predecessor companies have been serving this area for more than 75 years.
As Highmark Blue Shield, we serve approximately 1.1 million members through our health care benefits business and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the Blue Card program.
We continue to significantly lead our competitors in commercial market share, which is our share of insured local employer groups. We have a strong Medicare Advantage market share as well, and participate in the federal Marketplace for ACA [Affordable Care Act] coverage.
Our Highmark Direct stores across the region, including Allentown and Easton, offer walk-in, personal one-on-one service for individuals looking for coverage, including Medicare Advantage.
LVB: Trends in health care are perpetually developing, and with the forthcoming health care reform in the White House, how does and will Highmark position itself to stay ahead of the curve and stay current with the impending changes?
Day: We are working with our trade associations, such as America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, to ensure that we have a voice as the health care reform debate continues.
We are advocating for a more stabilized health insurance market where affordable coverage is available to everyone.
LVB: What have been some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that Highmark has encountered throughout the years?
Day: What we have seen in the last few years is a great number of provider (doctors and hospitals) consolidations – hospital systems merging or independent physician groups joining large hospital systems.
More recently, we have seen a large, outside provider system move into the central Pennsylvania region and buy existing hospitals.
These mergers and acquisitions could lead to limited choices for our members seeking care. To address this, we are collaborating with hospitals and doctors to create new health insurance products with more affordable rates and that ensure our members have access to local, high-quality care.
Here in the Lehigh Valley, we have created a new product with Lehigh Valley Health Network, Lehigh Valley Flex Blue, which offers greater coordination of patient care using data from both organizations. This helps create better patient outcomes and slow the rise in health care costs.
LVB: How does Highmark directly stimulate the local economy? How does it get involved with the local communities?
Day: Highmark has about 4,000 total employees in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
This includes United Concordia Dental, the Highmark subsidiary based near Harrisburg. They are among the largest dental companies in the nation, providing coverage to more than 8 million members. These employees live in the area, shop, pay taxes and use local services.
We also work with many local vendors, which supports local employment.
Our Highmark Direct retail stores in the region also help bring consumers to the shopping centers where they are located, and we pay to lease the space we use.
As far as supporting the community, we have a robust employee volunteer program and provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that help support many local organizations.
We are consistently recognized among the top corporations in the region for supporting the United Way.
LVB: What does the future look like for Highmark? Does it have plans for growth?
Day: We will continue to be innovative and offer the products and services that our customers and members need as the health care landscape continues to change.