Baltimore Sun Profiles WellPoint’s Success as Company Attempts to Buy Maryland-Based CareFirst
The Baltimore Sun on Sunday profiled WellPoint Health Networks Inc., the for-profit health plan that has offered $1.3 billion to buy Maryland-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and WellPoint's Chair and CEO Leonard Schaeffer. Since WellPoint's inception in 1996 when Blue Cross of California converted to a publicly traded company, Schaeffer has led the company with "innovation, focused management and hard-nosed bargaining," the Sun reports. WellPoint has consistently increased its revenue, profit, membership and stock price due in part to its "sophisticated pricing" and "mass customization" of benefits packages. In the past 18 months, the California-based company has purchased Blue Cross plans in Georgia and Missouri and is now looking to buy CareFirst -- and its 3.1 million members -- to create a "strong anchor" on the East Coast. But the Sun reports that the deal is far from certain, as the Maryland Legislature has imposed several conditions on the potential sale, and CareFirst must obtain permission from officials in Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to convert to for-profit status. In addition, the Maryland Hospital Association and the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, the state medical society, oppose the transaction, saying that WellPoint has a reputation for difficult negotiations with hospitals and physicians (Salganik, Baltimore Sun, 4/21). The full article is available online .This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.