Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield: The Largest Health Insurers in US

One of the largest health insurers in US, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield was created in 1996 by the consolidation of two Pennsylvania licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. These two companies were earlier known as Pennsylvania Blue Shield (now called Highmark Blue Shield) and a Blue Cross Plan in western Pennsylvania (now termed Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield). It has a long history of serving the communities, which dates back to 1930s when the predecessor companies were established to help people pay for proper medicare.

However, the mission has remained unchanged. It is essentially to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Advantages As a provider of health care insurance, the vision of the company is clear. It is “to be the leading customer-focused health insurer in the communities we serve, addressing the health care needs of individuals, while maintaining our financial strength. ” The strength of the organization lies in its people. Highmark has become representative of successful health insurers, apart from being one of the largest.

It has effectively created a synergy of different skills, talents, potential and backgrounds. It has been able to harness the power of diversity in the workplace and in the community to help all people live longer, healthier lives: thus meeting its mission statement. It has not permitted diversity to create distension, but has managed to make the different groups melt by inculcating a policy of ‘inclusion’. A culture of inclusion is built on a work environment and it makes everyone feel involved, and hence, valued and respected because of their differences and their unique contributions.

The successful exploitation of individual skills, abilities and perspectives has resulted in business success. When everyone has an opportunity to contribute, the company would have every opportunity to succeed. Another strength of Highmark stems from its offering realistic solutions to everyday wellness challenges. These programs are preventive in nature and show the sense of social responsibility on behalf of the organization. As health care costs continue to rise, this is just one more way Highmark is helping its members and those in the communities it serves to have a greater hand in their health.

Since it is a part of the Blue System, which is a federation of 43 locally operated plans united through the membership, the insurers can be sure of proper service without any problem in any part of the country. Weakness One major weakness of the organization is inherent to the system. By its very nature private health insurance is more expensive than the public and state funded health insurance. General Environment Impact The general environment has various dimensions. However, two dimensions – social and economic – particularly impact health insurance.

Social Dimension The advances in medicine and medical technology have two fold effect. While it makes the medical treatment more expensive, it has also helped people live longer. The population of US, as of all developed countries, is aging, and a larger group of senior citizens requires more medical care than a young healthier population. This causes an increase in the cost of health insurance. This does impact the profitability of companies like Highmark. If Highmark raises its premiums, it can lose business as well as get social disapproval.

Another aspect of the social dimension is the increase of sedentary lifestyle leading to obesity, increased drug use, and unhealthy food choices. All these add to the sickness and health costs. These all constitute threat to the economic viability of private health insurance companies. However, this threat can be converted into an opportunity by such organizations. By advocating and spreading preventive education, Highmark can keep the premiums low and affordable, and also win social acceptability and approval. Economic Dimension The economic dimension is another major impact.

The growth of economies and their structural transformation have always been recognized as being at the core of development. They still are the most important preconditions for the fulfillment of human needs and for any lasting improvements in living conditions. Health insurance companies use the term “adverse selection” to describe the tendency for sick people to be more likely to sign up for health insurance. Insurance companies say that asymmetry of information about a person’s health and behavior is likely to lead to adverse selection.

Those seeking health insurance are likely to be the ones with existing medical problems or those who are likely to have future medical problems, and that those who take out insurance may engage in risky behavior. The cost of providing health insurance to these bad risks raises the cost of insurance to the ‘good’ insurance risks, possibly pricing them out of the market, and it could create a situation in a market where insurance would become uneconomical. This is a major threat. However, it can also be turned around. Highmark, by a systematic compaign can attract more healthy people buy health insurance.

This would result in less claims on the percentage of total customers. In other words more money would go in and less paid out. These impacts are not exclusive to Highmark. Practically all providers of private health insurance would suffer from these. Companies like Liberty, Flexcare are modulating their programs accordingly to face these problems and maintain the profitability. Bibliography : https://www. highmark. com/hmk2/about/newsroom/pr090804. shtm? http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Blue_Cross-Blue_Shield? Kanie, Norichika, Haas, Peter M. (ed). Emerging Forces in Environmental Governance? Tokyo: United Nations University Press