WellPoint Inc., the second-largest health insurer in the U.S., which operates Anthem and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, announced yesterday that it's changing its name to Anthem, Inc. to better align its corporate identity and product brands, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The name change also demonstrates how insurers are shifting to a more consumer-focused mindset in the post-Affordable Care Act market. Since Anthem's name is more recognizable, Indianapolis-based WellPoint decided to move forward with that brand identity.
WellPoint's Anthem and Empire plans were particularly active in the health insurance exchanges, enrolling almost 770,000 members through the end of the second quarter, the WSJ noted.
"We're no longer a health insurer, we're truly a health plan engaging with individuals as opposed with large blocks of business," WellPoint CEO Joseph Swedish told Bloomberg. "There was this public brand that was a mixed kind of message. Our own employees had difficulty discerning between WellPoint, Anthem and which one is really running the show."
By changing its name to Anthem, the company also eliminates confusion for large employers as well as state and federal regulators. "Split brands work only in certain circumstances," Swedish added. "There's nothing more personal than healthcare services. That's why we felt a singular brand was critically important."
The name change still requires a shareholder vote, which WellPoint expects to happen in November.