Wednesday, October 7, 2015

After 17% cut, Independence Blue Cross still reviewing jobs, costs

Philadelphia's biggest health insurer ended 17% of its jobs last year

After 17% cut, Independence Blue Cross still reviewing jobs, costs


Independence Blue Cross, the dominant health insurer in the Philadelphia area, has cut total employment to 5,034, from 6,348 in early 2008, through attrition (mostly), early retirements and job cuts. The company is still working through a "three-year strategy" which includes modifying costs, and it's still under pressure from "the most challenging economy in a generation," with high unemployment and declining insurance enrollment says spokeswoman Liz Williams.

There's no additional planned mass layoff or early-retirement program, Williams told me. Instead, "we will selectively fill jobs and reduce the number of positions where we can do things more efficiently, through new use of technology for example." All insurers and many other big employers "all over the country are doing this." She declined to say how many Blue Cross intends to employ by year's end. "Our goal this year is to be in the black" after two years of losses. (Revised.)

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

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