Monthly Archives: February 2014

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Highmark Inc. sign definitive merger agreement

Highmark files for approval with Pennsylvania Insurance Department

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. and PITTSBURGH (Feb. 18, 2014) – The boards of directors of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) and Highmark Inc. (Highmark) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge, marking a key milestone in bringing together the two not-for-profit health insurance leaders to better serve the communities of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

“This definitive agreement meets the goals we established when we set out to explore options for BCNEPA’s future,” said Denise S. Cesare, president and CEO of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. “The merger will allow us to create greater efficiencies and offer new products and services to meet the changing health care needs of our members, customers, providers and the people of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.”

Highmark has submitted a Form A filing to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) to seek merger approval.

“Health care is changing at an incredible pace. This merger will enable BCNEPA to continue to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care across its region while taking advantage of Highmark’s resources, tools and advanced technologies,” said William Winkenwerder Jr., M.D., president and CEO of Highmark Health, the parent company of Highmark Inc. “Bringing together BCNEPA and Highmark will be good for northeastern and north central Pennsylvania residents and the communities in which BCNEPA operates.”

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which builds on the two organizations’ longstanding and successful collaboration, BCNEPA’s local operations will be merged with Highmark, and Highmark will become the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association affiliate for BCNEPA’s 13-county service area.

The agreement also contains provisions that are designed to preserve BCNEPA’s historical presence, operations and significant workforce in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. For example:

• Highmark will maintain regional operations in the BCNEPA service area, will make efforts to maintain local staffing levels and will attempt to identify and create new employment opportunities in the BCNEPA service area as business needs and conditions permit.

• Highmark will create a local advisory board to include board members of BCNEPA, which will have a voice in major decisions relating to the transition and operations in the BCNEPA service area for at least four years.

• Highmark and BCNEPA agreed that BCNEPA will provide up to $100 million through a charitable foundation to benefit health and wellness and economic development efforts across the region.

“Highmark has a strong track record of successful relationships and affiliations with other Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies,” said Deborah Rice-Johnson, president of Highmark Health Plan for Highmark Inc. “The merger will preserve jobs and maintain the strong presence of a Pennsylvania-based not-for-profit organization that is committed to the economic vitality of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.”

Together, BCNEPA and Highmark provide health insurance plans that serve nearly 5 million members in 62 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties as well as in Delaware and West Virginia. Both organizations have been recognized for maintaining a strong commitment to community and strong service to their customers while driving innovative health care solutions for the future.

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to more than 545,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide integrated health care services and products to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care in the populations it serves. For more information, visit




Marketplace Specialists Coming To Your Community

Benefits Network’s Marketplace Specialists will be answering questions about subsidies and cost sharing, plan designs and networks in an effort to  help individuals secure individual coverage before the March 31st deadline.

Visit with one of our Marketplace Specialists in your community at the following dates and locations:

Allegheny Valley Library – Broadview Rd. Tarentum, PA – Tuesday, February 18th from 11:30AM – 6 PM

Springdale Free Public Library – School St. Springdale, PA – Thursday, February 20th from Noon – 6 PM

Canonsburg Library – North Jefferson Ave. Canonsburg, PA – Monday, February 24th from 11:30AM – 6:00PM

Millvale Community Library – Millvale, PA – Saturday, March 8th  Hours TBD

Allegheny Valley Library – Neighborhood 5 Galleria at the Mills Mall – Monday, March 10th from 11:30AM-6:00 PM





Allegheny Health Network & Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

Enhancing the patient experience is the cornerstone of Allegheny Health Network’s vision, and this arrangement will allow doctors from the two institutions to consult with each other on cancer cases, and allow patients to take part in clinical cancer trials. The clinical collaborations, medical education and cancer-research initiatives established through this affiliation will allow them to continue providing the best care possible for the communities they serve.

This is very exciting news for Highmark’s clients and members in western Pennsylvania, and for all western Pennsylvania residents. Combining the excellent capabilities of the Allegheny Health Network and the renowned, pioneering work being done by the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins will provide significant new advantages to cancer patients in our area.

Please use the information below to make your clients aware of the many advantages of this affiliation, and to educate them on how Allegheny Health Network is focusing on innovation and creativity to ensure our western Pennsylvania members maintain access to the highest-quality, state-of-the-art, patient-centered care.

View the news release

Download the talking points

UPMC OnLine Billing

To access the online billing system, employers should login to Employer OnLine. (If they don’t have an account, they should sign up here .) Once inside the secure website, they should select the Payment/Billing tab to view their premium bill. The new payment system:

  • Offers the ability to view bills online 24/7.
  • Connects medical, UPMC Dental Advantage, and UPMC Vision Advantage billing data in one central location.
  • Provides the opportunity to go green: Employers can opt out of paper bills and manage payments online only. (Instruct your groups to choose this option by logging in to the payment system and selecting the “Go Green: Paper-Free Invoicing” button.)
  • Accepts payments via direct debit (ACH), debit cards, and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express).
  • Allows the employer to save payment information so it doesn’t have to be reentered each month.
  • Includes exporting functionality: Employers can export their employee roster into Excel format – a great way to reconcile files and reports!

We hope that your employer groups take advantage of this new functionality and we remind you that the client is able to provide you as their agent/broker access to their information.  Please contact our office for details on single sign on.