Excellus Health Plan, better known as Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, aims to excel as a provider of health insurance plans. The insurance firm serves some 1.8 million members in more than 30 counties in upstate New York. Its offerings include HMO, PPO, managed care, and low-cost health plans for individuals, families, and businesses large and small, as well as Medicare and supplemental dental plans. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield operates through four regional divisions: Central New York, Central New York Southern Tier, Rochester, and Utica. The company is a subsidiary of the not-for-profit organization The Lifetime Healthcare Companies, and is a licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
The Excellus/Lifetime Healthcare family also includes long-term care insurance provider MedAmerica and third-party benefits administrator EBS-RMSCO. Affiliate Univera Healthcare serves health plan customers in western New York. Excellus also owns half of the Univera IPA physician practice association.
While the company holds tight to its position as the largest health insurer in upstate New York, Excellus has not been immune from economic troubles. The firm experienced investment losses and enrollment declines that led to operational expense reduction programs during 2009. In 2011, however, the company experienced an 8% increase in premiums to some $5.6 billion due to a rise in enrollment levels and an increase in average premium rates. Profits also rose by more than 400% that year to some $223 million due to higher underwriting and investment income levels.
The company is working to enhance its information technology systems to improve process efficiencies. For example, the firm is a member of the Health Advancement Collaborative of Central New York (HAC-CNY), a group of insurers and health providers that is working to create a regional electronic health record (EHR) system. In addition, in 2010 Excellus implemented a claims analysis system to help manage medical expenses and predict future membership usage trends.
Excellus is also focusing on lowering the cost of care by promoting its HealthyRewards program, which provides incentives for members who follow preventative care regimens (and thus avoid expensive emergency room visits). It also is working to provide more affordable coverage options, such as high-deductable plans paired with health spending accounts, for individuals and small businesses.
Excellus was formed through the 2003 merger of three BlueCross Blue Shield licensees: BlueCross BlueShield of Central New York, BlueCross BlueShield of Rochester, and BlueCross BlueShield of Utica-Watertown. Since the merger, the Central New York division has been split in two units (Central and Central Southern).
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