Highmark, HealthNow New York complete affiliation

Highmark has completed its affiliation with HealthNow New York, bringing its membership to more than 6 million and making it the country's fourth-largest Blues plan.

Under the deal, HealthNow will be rebranded as Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Northeastern New York. The New York insurer will maintain local leadership and offices to continue as a community presence, according to the announcement.

HealthNow CEO Dave Anderson will continue on in the role through the end of 2021, when he will retire. Anderson will join the board of Directors of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York in 2022.

"Today’s announcement that we will be affiliating with Highmark is really a shining moment for our members … and all of our dedicated employees," Anderson said on a briefing with reporters Monday.

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The affiliation plan was first announced in June 2020 and echoes similar arrangements Highmark maintains in Delaware and West Virginia.

For now, plan designs for commercial members will not change, Anderson said. However, the companies plan to use the affiliation to bring new options and solutions, within state and federal guidelines. For government plans, changes aren't likely prior to 2022, he said.

Highmark also intends to invest in enhancing administrative capabilities and technology for the New York-based plans.

Other executive moves announced alongside the closure of the deal include that Michael Edbauer, HealthNow executive vice president and chief growth officer, will become president of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York, where he will oversee health plan activities.

Julie Snyder, HealthNow's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, will step into a new role overseeing New York-based community affairs and charitable giving.

The companies said further leadership changes will be announced as the structure is finalized.