Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana recently announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Elevance Health, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval.
This acquisition will unite two organizations deeply rooted in the communities they serve and aligned in a mission to improve whole health. Together they will continue to prioritize what is best for Louisiana's members and customers by improving access, quality, affordability, and the experience that Louisianians have trusted for almost 90 years.
The purchase price is $2.5 billion. In addition to the purchase price, there is an agreement between the two companies that some of Blue Cross’ existing reserves will go toward establishing a $3 billion private foundation aimed at addressing health inequalities across Louisiana. Called the Accelerate Louisiana Initiative, the foundation will focus only on the unique and complex needs of Louisianians. It will do this by addressing health inequities and broader community needs across our state, which continues to lag the nation in many important health metrics.
Letter to Members from Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi, M.D.,
President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Letter to Members
Frequently Asked Questions About the Acquisition
Will there be any changes in member benefits?
At this time, there will be no changes to our members’ current benefits.
Can members still see their doctor/healthcare provider?
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana network is not changing. Members can continue to access the same providers as they do now under their current benefit plan.
Do members have the same choice of services?
Yes. At this time, there will be no changes to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s services.
Will Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana continue to provide Medicare Advantage products for seniors?
Yes. Our current Medicare Advantage products are not changing at this time.
Following the close of the transaction, Elevance Health will enhance the competitive Blue offering in the Medicare Advantage space. In doing so, BCBSLA can bring seniors in Louisiana more robust benefits and additional product offerings that are available with Elevance Health.
Who should BCBSLA members contact for questions about their benefits?
Members should continue to call the customer service number on the back of their membership ID card or access our website at www.bcbsla.com as they always have.
Are authorization/pre-approval rules changing?
Nothing related to benefits is changing at this time. In accordance with our provider and state/federal contracts, we will notify members of any changes well in advance of their implementation.
Will BCBSLA members be required to move to an Elevance Health-affiliated health plan now?
No, there will be no immediate changes to our member’s current benefits.
Will members have access to new products and services as a result of this transaction?
Yes, after the transaction closes, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana members will be able to access a portfolio of solutions and capabilities developed by Elevance Health and its healthcare services organization, Carelon.
Elevance Health has made more than $4 billion in investments over the past several years such as behavioral health, complex and chronic care programs and innovative digital models.
These solutions have demonstrated success nationally in improving members' health and keeping them healthier.
What kinds of products and services will be available?
We will bring more effective and efficient solutions such as integrated pharmacy, care navigation, and member advocacy, which would help improve member health outcomes
Will Elevance Health continue to invest in Louisiana?
Yes, Elevance Health is committed to continued investment in broadening its breadth of services to advance the whole health of its members
Why is Elevance Health acquiring BCBSLA?
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a financially strong and vibrant company, serving Louisiana for almost 90 years. As the leading health insurer in the state, we have a deep understanding of the unique needs of our members, our customers, the providers we work with and the communities we serve. To meet those needs, we have had to evolve over time, and in the rapidly changing healthcare environment, the need to evolve and adapt is more important today than ever.
Across healthcare, scale has become increasingly important. That is why the BCBSLA board, the CEO and members of senior management initiated a formal process to identify a partner with the ability to help us secure a strong future for our company, and specifically a partner that could provide leading innovations, products, capabilities and services at a faster pace, and more comprehensively, than we could alone. We believe that aligning with a large, trusted organization will allow us to accelerate our mission of improving the health and lives of Louisianians.
What is Elevance Health?
Elevance Health is no stranger to us or Louisiana. BCBSLA and Elevance Health formed the Healthy Blue joint venture, where we have partnered together since 2017 to offer a Blue option to Louisiana’s Medicaid population.
Since forming Healthy Blue, it has become clear that our missions and cultures are aligned, with a focus on community, volunteerism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Elevance Health is the parent company of 14 Blue Cross Blue Shield plans across the country and has a broad portfolio of whole health solutions.
More information on Elevance Health can be found at www.elevancehealth.com.
Will there still be Blue Cross and Blue Shield offices in Louisiana?
Yes, our headquarters will remain in Baton Rouge, and regional sales offices will still be located across the state, including the recently announced Medicare Advantage Center of Excellence in Monroe.
When will the transaction close?
We do not know the date for closing, but we anticipate it will occur in the fourth quarter of 2023.
What are the details of the new foundation?
The Accelerate Louisiana Initiative is being created to address the unique and complex needs of the people of Louisiana. Its mission - like ours - will be to improve the health and lives of the people of Louisiana. The foundation will focus on strengthening communities by addressing health inequities and broader community needs in Louisiana, which continues to lag the nation in many important health metrics.
Will the foundation only be focused on Louisiana?
Yes, the Accelerate Louisiana Initiative foundation will focus only on the unique and complex needs of Louisianians.
How can I find out more about the Accelerate Louisiana Initiative Foundation and apply for funding?
More information on the Accelerate Louisiana Initiative foundation will be shared following the close of the transaction.
Approving the Acquisition
The Elevance Health acquisition requires several levels of approvals, not only from regulatory bodies and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, but also from certain eligible policyholders who must vote to approve the Plan of Reorganization, which converts BCBSLA from a mutual insurance company to a stock company.
This reorganization needs to happen before Elevance Health can complete the acquisition.
In early August, Blue Cross and Blue of Louisiana mailed eligible policyholders an information packet that explained the plan of reorganization and included the option of granting their proxy to the company by mail, online, by phone or in person at a Special Policyholder Meeting on Sept. 6, 2023.
Please note that who is considered an eligible policyholder is well defined in this situation. In fact, most of our members did not receive an information packet because they’re not eligible to vote under that definition.
Who is an eligible policyholder?
An eligible policyholder is an individual or company who has purchased a fully insured health, vision, and/or dental policy with Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Company, which is the legal holding company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. In addition, to be an eligible policyholder, they must have actively held one or more of the above policies on January 23, 2023 – the date the plan was adopted – and must be an active eligible policyholder on the date the transaction closes, which we expect to be by year end.
Those members who purchased eligible individual BCBSLA policies – Medicare Supplemental, Medicare Advantage, ACA and non-ACA – are eligible policyholders. Their dependents on these policies are not eligible policyholders. Group customers who purchased eligible BCBSLA group policies for employees are considered the eligible policyholder and would be represented by their group leader on record. Their covered employees and dependents are not eligible policyholders. Administrative Services Only (ASO) policyholders and people who hold policies with subsidiaries of BCBSLA’s holding company are not eligible to vote.
HMO Louisiana, Southern National Life or Vantage policyholders are not eligible to vote.
What to do if you receive an information packet in the mail.
If you’re an eligible policyholder, you should have received a packet of information that gives you instructions on how to grant your proxy to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Board of Directors. You can do this by mail, online, phone or at a Special Policyholder Meeting scheduled on Sept. 6, 2023.
There are several ways to grant your proxy:
ALL proxies must be received by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Sept. 1, 2023, in order for your proxy to be valid.
Someone called me about this? Is that call legitimate?
In addition to the mailing, you may receive a phone call from Dial America. This is a courtesy to make it easier for you to vote. Dial America will not ask you for financial information. As always, never give your financial information over the phone.
How will I know if I’m an eligible policyholder?
If you are an eligible policyholder, you will have received an information packet and a proxy ballot in the mail in early August.
Why didn’t I get an information packet?
We sent packets to all eligible policyholders in early August. There are a few reasons why you didn’t receive a packet, the most likely is that you’re not an eligible policyholder as defined in this situation. However, if your address has changed recently, you can call the customer service number on the back of your ID card.
Will eligible policyholders receive a payment as result of the transaction?
Yes. Once the transaction is approved and finalized, eligible policyholders will receive a payment of approximately $3,000 per eligible policy.
Is the payment taxable?
The payment is taxable for US federal income tax purposes.