Blues plans spin off billing, admin work into new company

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City (BCBSKC) on Tuesday announced that they have jointly created a new company to handle their administrative work.

The new company, Topaz Shared Services, is an effort to invest in new technology designed to help improve the electronic claims process and also cut costs, reported the Triangle Business Journal. Topaz will handle billing, enrollment and claims processing operations for both Blues plans' small group policies, the Durham Herald-Sun reported.

"What we intuitively know is that scale will mean efficiency" and, therefore, lower costs, BCBSNC CEO Brad Wilson told the News & Observer. Although he couldn't specify the exact costs savings, Wilson said creating Topaz will "position us to be nimble and flexible and provide better customer service."

BCBSKC President and CEO David Gentile agreed. "Creating Topaz will allow us to accelerate the technology, business and product changes we need to make to remain competitive in a consumer-oriented marketplace," he said.

Both BCBSNC and BCBSKC have started recruiting existing employees to transition their work with Topaz, which should be operational by Jan. 1, 2014, reported the Kansas City Star. Those employees initially will work for Topaz while officially remaining on their current payrolls. "At least in the near term, it's a change in work and not a reduction in work," BCBSNC spokeswoman Michelle Douglas told the News & Observer.

Both insurers will continue to handle administrative work internally for their large group businesses; however, their long-term goal is to shift those plans' administrative services to Topaz too.

To learn more:
- read the Durham Herald-Sun article
- see the Triangle Business Journal article
- read the News & Observer article
- check out the Kansas City Star article
- see the Blues press release

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