Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, New York's largest health insurer by membership, has a new chief executive.
Lawrence Schreiber, 52, will take over as CEO of Empire, a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based insurance giant Anthem, on Dec. 28. He replaces Brian Griffin, who was promoted in September to executive vice president and chief executive of Anthem's commercial and specialty business—the company's largest and most profitable business segment.
Schreiber previously served as president of the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan in Wisconsin, where he improved membership totals and financial performance during his seven years in the role, the company said. Empire has more than 4 million members in New York state, and 2.9 million members in the city.
"It's an honor to be asked to lead this company, and I look forward to finding even better ways for Empire to focus on delivering a more personalized healthcare experience for our members and healthcare consumers," Schreiber said in a statement.
Schreiber will face a number of hurdles in the New York insurance market, particularly on the New York State of Health marketplace, where state regulators can alter proposed premium increases. Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealthcare, the largest U.S. health insurer, has said it is considering leaving the Affordable Care Act-created health exchanges by 2017, as the segment is expected to cut into its 2015 profit.
There has also been consolidation in the local hospital market, giving more leverage to providers in negotiations with health plans. In an interview with Crain's after his promotion, Griffin pointed to collaborations Empire has struck with hospitals, declining to blame hospital mergers for rising health care costs. In one case, the insurer has partnered with Mount Sinai Health System to better manage the health of 48,000 commercial and Medicare members through an accountable care agreement.
Schreiber was born and raised in Nyack, N.Y., and joined Anthem, then called Wellpoint, in 2006. Earlier in his career, he held executive roles with UnitedHealthcare and Aetna. As CEO he will be responsible for Empire's small-group, large-group and individual business lines. The company's Medicaid business is run by a separate unit, Empire BlueCross BlueShield HealthPlus.
Amadou Yattassaye had been Empire's interim president after Griffin's departure. He will return to the position of vice president and general manager of operations, planning and individual business.
Empire had 2.9 million members in New York City as of Sept. 30, according to Crain's list of the city's largest health insurers, a 3.6% decline from the prior year. The company said the dip was the result of shifting members with its national account clients to a different legal entity under Anthem, and said local membership has actually increased.
The company's total revenue was $4.4 billion in 2014, down 32.7%, which the insurer also explained away, attributing the drop to employers switching more than 1 million members from fully insured to self-insured plans. In a self-insured health plan, an employer pays for its workers' health care costs, while an insurer receives a fee to administer the plan
Anthem agreed to acquire Cigna for about $54.2 billion in July. The new entity would be the nation's largest health insurer with 53 million members, overtaking UnitedHealthcare. The deal received shareholder approval last week, but must still get the green light from regulators before it is finalized.