Meet the exec aiming to improve consumer experience for BCBSMA members

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced last week that they’ve hired Paul Long to serve as the not-for-profit health plan’s chief consumer experience officer.

In that capacity, Long will oversee a strategy that will include market research and data collected from Blue Cross’ service centers. He will also be charged with training BCBSMA’s employees in best practices for providing member, account, and provider services, as well as helping Medicare enrollees. They will also be trained on how to handle appeals and grievances. Long takes over the post from Tonya Webster who stepped down from in July 2022.

Long told Fierce Healthcare in an email that his job will entail helping the insurer “adopt best practices focused on creating a seamless and frictionless experience for BCBSMA’s most important asset—the people they serve—as they navigate their overall health and wellbeing.”

Paul Long
Paul Long (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts)

In that capacity, he hopes to increase access to care, lower healthcare costs, and foster better outcomes. In addition, Long said that he’ll “establish the strategic direction and complete oversight of all member and provider and federal service functions performed within BCBSMA.”

“Here’s what I think is interesting about this,” Michael Millenson, an internationally known expert on quality and care, told Fierce Healthcare in an email. “Take a look at his responsibilities. It’s not just what you’d expect; it also includes appeals and grievances and training and development. I’d be very interested to what extent this title has a standard set of responsibilities ... and to what extent non-profit plans vs. for-profit plans give it more power.”

In the press release, Long said that “Blue Cross’ mission and focus on providing an unparalleled consumer experience is exceptional.”

Long’s a veteran of the managed care industry. Before coming to BCBSMA, Long was a senior vice president of product and consumer experience at Premera Blue Cross, and before that held various positions at UnitedHealth Group for over ten years, where he helped launch customer experience efforts.

Rich Lynch, BCBSMA’s CEO, said in the press release that Long “has a proven record of helping organizations elevate and transform their customer experience and will help ensure we’re showing up as a trusted ally to our members.”

In addition to his work with health plans, Long sits on the “board of directors of M2H, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving men’s mental health and wellbeing, serving as board chairman and on the nominating and governance committee,” according to the press release.

BCBSMA’s focus on member satisfaction comes at a time when such approval seems elusive for health plans. A recent study by HealthEdge found that less than 45% out of over 2,800 insured individuals think that they were fully satisfied with their health coverage. And while 66% of those surveyed said that they trust their insurer more than government or nontraditional payers like Amazon or Walmart to administer benefits, 40% blame health plans for the high cost of insurance.