Patrick Hays unexpectedly stepped down Friday as president and chief executive officer of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
The 57-year-old former health system executive is leaving to spend more time with his family and to pursue new career opportunities.
Scott Serota, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Chicago-based association, will serve as interim CEO while the board conducts a national search for its new leader. Serota, 43, is considered a candidate for the position.
Hays took charge of the association in February 1995, leading the Blues' rapid move from fee-for-service into managed care. Before that, he served as chief executive of Sutter Health, Sacramento, Calif.
The association oversees 49 independent Blues plans that provide health insurance to 74 million, or 27%, of Americans.