WellPoint, Indianapolis, plans a strategic partnership with IBM Corp. under which WellPoint eventually will transfer 380 employees in 14 states to the information technology giant's payroll. The health insurer intends to shift "select infrastructure work" to IBM to "produce greater efficiencies and enhance the infrastructure of our operations," a WellPoint spokesman said. The company declined to disclose financial terms of the deal. While the partnership is expected to save WellPoint money, it is too early to determine how much, the spokesman said. The agreement should be finalized "in the near future," after the companies complete discussions with regulators, and the transition then may take up to 30 months, he said.
IBM has moved aggressively into healthcare in recent months. In May, it announced an eight-year, $402 million joint development agreement with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the acquisition of healthcare consultant Healthlink. -- by Cinda Becker