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La Cruz Azul Shoots For $500 Million In Premiums By 2007
Invests $15 million in technology; parent Independence Blue Cross to help insurance company re-emerge as market leader
By TAINA ROSA
April 22, 2004
Health insurance company La Cruz Azul is determined to reach $500 million in subscribed premiums by 2007. To do so, it has invested more than $15 million in a state-of-the-art information system.
"What [former La Cruz Azul President] Zoraida [Marchany] announced in 2001 is now a reality," said Robert Fascia, senior vice president & assistant to the president of Independence Blue Cross, La Cruz Azuls parent company. He noted the systems implemented at La Cruz Azul are the same as those that have been running for over a year at Independence Blue Cross Philadelphia headquarters.
At La Cruz Azul, said President Marcos Vidal, the technology has allowed it to comply with federal regulations such as those in the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act, which requires insurers and health providers to perform transactions electronically.
Vidal said another advantage of the technology is that it isnt static but will evolve. "Once the system is completely fine-tuned, it will provide many benefits," said John Foos, chief financial officer of Independence Blue Cross.
Foos added that many Web-based applications will also be incorporated into the system. "For instance, providers [such as hospitals] will be allowed to automatically confirm member eligibility and check claim status; members will have access to coverage information, will be able to change their coverage, and will be able to request new identification cards," he said.
The Web-based system will also remind La Cruz Azul members to take their medicine or visit their physician for a checkup. This will be especially beneficial for members who have trouble complying with doctors orders, said Foos.
Vidal believes the new technology will allow La Cruz Azul to increase its subscribed premiums to $500 million by 2007, from $330 million in 2002, returning the company to a position of leadership in Puerto Ricos health insurance industry. Additionally, it will allow La Cruz Azul to pay claims promptly. "Were right on track thanks to the new system," said Vidal. The system should be fully operational in 2005.
He added that La Cruz Azul is also working to add more beneficiaries from government and corporate employees.
Independence Blue Cross has vowed to help La Cruz Azul in its quest for leadership. In October 2003, the company increased its ownership of La Cruz Azul from 51% to 83%. Fascia said the move came after Independence Blue Cross decided to convert the money La Cruz Azul owed it into common stock. "Now, La Cruz Azul is no longer in debt [with us] and we have a greater share of the company," he said, calling it a win-win situation.
Independence Blue Cross is the eighth-largest Blue Cross plan on the U.S. mainland. According to Foos, Independence Blue Cross covers more than 3.5 million people stateside and in Puerto Rico.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.