Elevance Health To Buy Louisiana Blue Cross Plan

Elevance Health will expand its portfolio of Anthem brand health plans by buying Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana for an undisclosed sum.

The deal announced Monday will bring 1.9 million health plan customers and another state market to Elevance Health’s family of affiliated Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield branded health insurance plans. Elevance, which had 47.3 million health plan members in its plans as of the end of the third quarter 2022, releases fourth quarter and full year 2022 earnings and new enrollment figures on Wednesday.

Louisiana will become the 15thth state where the Anthem Blue Cross brand of health insurance will be sold once Elevance’s purchase closes later this year.

“They became our 15th Blue state and can remain local, but will have the ability to leverage scale and be able to bring even more services to their membership,” Elevance Health president and chief executive Gail Boudreaux said in an interview.

To be sure, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana health plan members will have access to Elevance Health’s broad range of products including behavioral health services and the company’s Carelon healthcare services that include the IngenioRx pharmacy benefit management company Elevance owns and operates.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana president and CEO Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi said the sale to Elevance will help the insurer “to remain strong in today’s environment with an ability to provide leading innovations, products and capabilities.”

“We concluded that we needed a partner who could help us deliver these things faster and better than we could alone,” Udvarhelyi said.

The deal expands Elevance’s reach deeper into the south where the company already operates the Anthem Blue Cross plan in Georgia and already has an existing collaboration in Louisiana via joint ownership of “Healthy Blue,” which serves Medicaid and Medicare “Dual Eligible” enrollees.

“Elevance Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana will combine strengths to provide services unique to the needs of Louisiana to better serve members through a whole health personalized approach,” Boudreaux said in a statement. “As organizations aligned in our missions, we are excited at the opportunity to bring our leading, innovative whole-health solutions to BCBSLA’s members as we work together to become a lifetime, trusted, health partner.”

The financial terms of the deal, including the purchase price, were not disclosed Monday. However, Elevance Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana said the transaction will create a “multi-billion dollar foundation” once the deal closes.

It’s common for proceeds of sales of nonprofits or mutual-owned health insurers to publicly-traded and investor-owned companies like Elevance Health to be allocated to not-for-profit foundations or charities. That way, the long-held mission of the mutual or non-profit continues in some form.

In this case, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, founded in New Orleans in 1934, is a private mutual company owned by policyholders. “This foundation is being created to address the unique and complex needs of the people of Louisiana with the mission to improve the health and lives of the people of Louisiana by addressing health inequities and strengthening local communities,” the companies said in a press release, which called the proposed new foundation “the Accelerate Louisiana Initiative.”

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