Former Blue Cross of Illinois CEO Maurice Smith is taking over as boss at Health Care Services Corp., the company announced Tuesday.
Smith was promoted last year to president of HCSC after the departure of then-CEO Paula Steiner. Sources identified him then as a contender for the top job, which has been held in the meantime by interim CEO David Lesar, who now will return to his previous role as a board member.
Smith, 48, who has been with HCSC for nearly 27 years and joined as an intern, will become HCSC CEO effective June 1.
"We will continue to take action to focus and execute on a strategy that will propel this exciting and innovative company into the next phase of its evolution, while providing long-term value to customers, medical and other health care providers, employees and other partners in the dynamic health care industry," he said in a statement.
HCSC is the parent of Blue Cross plans in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Montana, in addition to Illinois. Revenues last year totaled $38.6 billion, making it the country's sixth-largest health insurer.
Steiner's departure last year was reported to be the result of a clash with board members over strategy. Some directors want the insurer to broaden its service capabilities as other large health insurers have done. Aetna, for example, combined with CVS Health 18 months ago to combine leading insurance and pharmacy offerings. Other insurers are more aggressively hiring their own doctors or acquiring practices. HCSC, by contrast, has been more cautious on deal-making.
How the coronavirus pandemic changes that equation, however, is challenging to predict. Health insurers in the short term are profiting from an unexpected reprieve in paying claims tied to elective surgeries, which for weeks have been postponed to cope with the crisis. But, over the next few years, covering the cost of care for those who continue to fall sick while the country works toward a vaccine and more effective therapies will be added to the surgeries and routine care that now are slowly returning.
This story, which first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's Chicago Business, is developing...