The Regence Group
|Headquarters||Portland, Oregon, USA|
|Key people||Mark Ganz: President & CEO|
The Regence Group is a nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield licensed health insurance company headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It is licensed to sell health insurance plans under the Blue Cross Blue Shield name in Utah, and Oregon. It is licensed under the Blue Shield name in Idaho and western Washington. Its non-Blue subsidiary uses the Asuris name in eastern Washington, because Premera acquired that territory's Blue Shield license in 1998 when it merged with Spokane's Medical Services Corporation.
Regence has 2.5 million members in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. It has the largest enrollment of any health insurer in Oregon and Washington. It has offices in each state served, and employs 5,500 people.
Regence was formed by a series of mergers in the 1990s to provide a "regional alliance" (Regence) of nonprofit health plans that would be substantial enough to continue operating in its historical service areas as national for-profit insurers entered the market. Among the many medical bureaus and health plans that merged to become Regence is Pierce County Medical Bureau, formed in 1917 in Tacoma.
Merger activity remained active among hospitals and health plans nationally in the 1990s. In the Pacific Northwest, there were approximately 30 health plans in 1997 and by 2002 there were 20. Activity increased when Thurston County Medical Bureau merged with King County Medical Bureau, and increased more when Pierce County Medical Bureau and King County Medical Bureau merged with the BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon (which had themselves merged in 1983), to form The Benchmark Group in 1995 under Dick Woolworth's leadership. Richard (Dick) Woolworth's experience as chair of the BlueCross BlueShield Association would prove useful in his new role as CEO, as he led TBG in their coming wave of M&A activity. BlueCross BlueShield of Utah joined in 1996, and BlueShield of Idaho joined shortly thereafter, under an administrative services agreement that allowed BSI to remain owned by its members as a mutual insurance company but have Regence handle the management. Skagit County Medical Bureau and Whatcom County Medical Bureau merged in 1998, as part of the unaligned movement, to form Northwest Washington Medical Bureau. In 2001, Northwest Washington Medical Bureau merged with Regence. In 2003, Dick Woolworth retired, his place taken by Mark Ganz. In 2006, Regence renamed one of its three Portland buildings in Woolworth's honor.
In 2005, Regence received 24.8% of the customer complaints with the Washington Insurance Commissioner, with a share of 22.3% of the market.
Regence’s president, Mark Ganz, earned $897,671 from Regence BlueShield in Washington in 2008, including a bonus of $550,548. In Oregon, his compensation package totaled $872,665. In both states, Ganz brought home $1,770,336. The other high ranking Regence officials with six-figure salaries included Mohandas Nair, executive vice president and chief marketing executive, who earned $356,681 from Washington, and $295,140 from Oregon for a total of $651,821. Regence’s treasurer, Steve Hooker, treasurer, who’s announced his retirement, earned $337,543 from Washington and $304,641 in Oregon for a total of $642,184. William Barr, executive vice president of operations, took home $430,926 from Washington, and $377,119 from Oregon for a total of $808,045. And, Kerry Barnett, executive vice president of Regence’s corporate division, earned $312,482 from Washington and $302,990 in Oregon for a total of $615,472.
The Seattle Times published an article on February 9, 2012 alleging that non-profit insurance outfits, including Regence BlueShield, are stockpiling billions of dollars in reserves while simultaneously increasing their rates.
- Internal history, Rod Bunnell, 1997
- Washington State Historical Society, Pierce County Medical Society Papers
- Jan. 13, 1999,"Concern Rising About Health Plan Mergers," New York Times, Jan. 13, 1999: "The health care industry is rapidly whittling itself down to a few giant companies that dominate the health systems."