Press Releases

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Highmark Inc. and HealthNow New York Inc. Announce Affiliation Agreement

Not-for-profit Blue Plan synergies will enhance member experience and improve clinical engagement

PITTSBURGH and BUFFALO (June 16, 2020) — Highmark Inc. and HealthNow New York Inc. today announced an agreement to affiliate, marking a key milestone in plans to bring together the two not-for-profit Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans to better serve the communities of Western and Northeastern New York, as well as Highmark’s Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia regions. 

“The objectives driving this affiliation are focused on our shared desire for better health solutions for HealthNow members that can increase customer and clinician engagement, create better health outcomes, manage costs and improve affordability,” said David Holmberg, chairman of Highmark. “This affiliation will also enable HealthNow to take advantage of Highmark’s resources, tools and advanced technologies.”

Under the terms of the affiliation agreement, Highmark’s parent company, Highmark Health, will become the primary licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association for HealthNow’s 8-county Western New York and 13-county Northeastern New York service areas, pending regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other closing conditions.

“This affiliation is good for the people and communities we serve.  Highmark has a unique business model, organized around the principles of partnership between payers and providers,” said David Anderson, president and CEO of HealthNow. “In addition, Highmark has been a leader among the Blues and in the broader industry in developing new capabilities and innovative Blue Cross Blue Shield products from which our members and customers will benefit.”

With its history of affiliations, Highmark understands how to ensure members receive the benefits of additional resources and breadth of offerings while preserving the local identity and focus of a regional, mission-driven company.  In fact, the affiliation agreement unanimously approved by the respective health plans’ boards of directors contains provisions that are designed to preserve HealthNow’s strong historical presence in Western and Northeastern New York. For example:

  • HealthNow will maintain its headquarters in Erie County, NY, as well as its regional office in Northeastern New York/Albany County, New York. 
  • HealthNow will be branded Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York and Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, preserving the health plan’s local identity.
  • Highmark recognizes the importance of local influence over healthcare decisions and the importance of a local market presence. This includes recognition of the value of maintaining jobs in the local affiliate’s market and minimizing disruptive impacts on the local workforce.
  • HealthNow Administrative Services, with locations in Blue Bell, PA and Sacramento, CA will also be part of the proposed transaction, maintaining TPA services for more than 100,000 customers.

“Highmark has a strong track record of successful relationships and affiliations with other Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies,” said Deborah Rice-Johnson, president of Highmark. “This affiliation will preserve the strong presence of a not-for-profit Blue organization that is committed to the health and vitality of the local communities it serves.”

Together, Highmark and HealthNow provide health insurance plans that serve nearly six million members. Both organizations have been recognized for maintaining strong service to their members and customers, and have a legacy of support to the community.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal counsel for Highmark.  Harter Secrest & Emery served as legal counsel to HealthNow.

About Highmark Inc.

One of America's leading health insurance organizations and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Highmark Inc. and its affiliated health plans work passionately to deliver high-quality, accessible, understandable, and affordable experiences, outcomes, and solutions to customers. As the fourth-largest overall Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization in membership, Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates proudly cover the insurance needs of more than 5.6 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance and other related businesses. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

About HealthNow New York Inc.

One of New York’s leading health care companies, HealthNow New York Inc. provides access to quality health care and innovative solutions for individuals and employers. HealthNow offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services, as well as dental and vision plans, and stop loss coverage. Headquartered in Buffalo, NY, the company operates as BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York (Buffalo), BlueShield of Northeastern New York (Albany), Health Now Brokerage Concepts (Blue Bell, PA), and Health Now Administrative Services (across the Northeast U.S. and California). In 2019, the company had revenues of $2.8 billion and reserves of $702 million. 

Journalist Note:  Executives from Highmark and HealthNow will be available to talk with you at 11:30 am today via an operator-moderated teleconference at 877-226-8143 with access code 9609492.

For more information, contact:

Aaron Billger
Highmark Health
412-544-7826
aaron.billger@highmarkhealth.org

Amber Hartmann
HealthNow New York Inc.
716-291-5685
hartmann.amber@healthnow.org 

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