HELENA — Montana’s largest health insurance provider has announced its next leader.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana named Collette Hanson as its new president, effective Thursday. Hanson is a Helena native who has spent more than 35 years with the company, in a variety of roles. Most recently, she worked for about four years as divisional vice president of sales and account management.
“The company is near and dear to my heart, and so are all the employees that I have had the opportunity to work with,” she said. “The employees and what we do and what we stand for is what’s kept me here all these years.”
Hanson is replacing the previous president, Dr. Monica Berner, who was promoted to become chief clinical officer for BCBS’s parent company, Health Care Service Corporation.
Hanson said she doesn’t plan major changes for BCBS or for its customers. She said she wants to continue the work the company has already been doing.
“I obviously have been here a while, so I understand the landscape and what we currently have in place,” she said. “I know our direction of value-based care and where we’re heading, with really our true focus of ensuring we have affordability for our members, and also ensuring they have quality outcomes for any services that they receive. That definitely will continue to be a major focus.”
HCSC has recently made some layoffs. Hanson said about 10 BCBS employees in Montana were affected. She said the company has been trying to “rebalance” – reducing the number of management positions relative to the rest of their employees – and that they have also hired additional employees in other jobs. Within the last two weeks, she said they hired 14 additional claims staff.
“Our hiring process has not stopped, and we’re continuing to evaluate which additional staff we need,” said Hanson.
The health insurance industry has seen a number of changes in recent years, particularly around the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act and the launch of insurance exchanges. A legal challenge to the health care law will be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming months.
Hanson said BCBS will be keeping a close eye on any possible future changes.
“We are constantly monitoring what’s happening on the legislative and the regulatory front, and we will continue to monitor that,” she said. “As those things come to fruition, we will adjust – and we add our voice to that as well.”