Montana Blues 'allies' with HCSC for IT, finances

Health Care Service Corporation is getting even bigger. The fourth largest health insurer said Monday it would acquire Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana.

The two companies are still working out the details of the "alliance," but said Montana's largest insurer will become part of the HCSC team of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

"What we bring to the table through this alliance are additional resources to offer affordable health care coverage to every corner of Montana in new and innovative ways," HCSC CEO Patricia Hemingway Hall said in a statement. Those resources should help Blue Cross better control costs, improve customer service and provide new services for its members, Beartooth NBC reported.

The deal also will help Blue Cross gain access to technology, including HCSC's many mobile apps, without all the associated costs. What's more, Blue Cross can take advantage of HCSC's scale and financial strength to improve its offerings, according to the Associated Press

"(HCSC) has a state-of-the-art claims processing system; they've put $2.4 billion into technology in the last decade," Blue Cross CEO Mike Frank told The Missoulian. "With just $128 million of reserves, it makes it very difficult for us to come up with that kind of money."

State regulators, including the Montana attorney general and insurance commissioner, still must approve the deal. Officials from both companies met with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, assuring him that the new deal won't lead to Blue Cross becoming a mutual benefit company, The Missoulian noted.

"What we are very committed to is a sound, solid, not-for-profit Blue system that can continue to compete in this world that we're facing," Hemingway Hall said. "The marketplace is changing; the competition is more than it's ever been."

To learn more:
- read The Missoulian article
- see the Associated Press article
- read the Beartooth NBC article
- check out the HCSC statement