BATON ROUGE, La. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s Board of Directors unanimously elected Dr. I. Steve Udvarhelyi (pronounced ood-ver-hi) as the company’s President and CEO during its annual meeting today, and Udvarhelyi begins his role effective immediately.
An internist and academic medicine physician by training, Dr. Udvarhelyi began working for health insurance companies so he could help implement changes in healthcare instead of just studying them. He brings a wealth of healthcare leadership experience to Blue Cross.
“When Mike Reitz told us last year that he planned to retire, we knew we had very big shoes to fill,” said Dan S. Borné, chairman of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Board of Directors.
The Board conducted a nationwide search to find the best candidate to take Reitz’s place. “We have found the perfect candidate in Steve. He is a man of great character, great experience and great strategic vision, which makes him perfectly suited to take the lead at Blue Cross and build on Mike’s Reitz’s work,” Borne’ said.
The board announced in November 2015 that it had selected Udvarhelyi to succeed Reitz, who was CEO for seven years of his 40-year career with Blue Cross.
“Mike, the Board and the leadership here at Blue Cross have done a tremendous job in creating a great company, which I am thankful to have the chance to come here and lead,” Udvarhelyi said. “Working together with our customers, doctors in our networks, employers and others, we have a real chance to build on his legacy and make Louisiana’s healthcare system better.”
Before joining Blue Cross, Udvarhelyi spent nearly 20 years at Independence Blue Cross, headquartered in Philadelphia, where he served in a variety of roles, most recently executive vice president, -- health services and chief strategy officer.
Udvarhelyi is an internal medicine physician and was an academic medicine faculty member at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, where he conducted research on healthcare cost, quality and access issues. Udvarhelyi decided he wanted to take on these challenges instead of just studying them, and he switched to working on the payer side, with health insurance companies. He began working with Prudential Health Care and served in several roles, including running the company’s Florida health plans, before joining Independence Blue Cross.
“My varied work experiences have let me look at the healthcare system from many different angles – as a patient, as a doctor treating patients, as someone responsible for the management of physician groups, as part of a large health system, as a healthcare researcher and as a payer,” Udvarhelyi said. “I understand how complex healthcare is, and I see how we can use strong partnerships to improve healthcare and make it more accessible, more affordable and of a greater value to everyone.”
Reitz, who assisted the Board with the national search for a new CEO, said he knows he is leaving Blue Cross in good hands with Udvarhelyi’s leadership.
“We chose the best possible candidate, and I know Steve will build on our foundation,” Reitz said. “Although he is new to our state, he has worked on many of the same challenges we face here, and that will help him further our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians.”
Reitz will remain at Blue Cross for a brief period to assist Udvarhelyi with his transition.
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About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer. We are a private company, mutually owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We are an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to improving the health and lives of all Louisianians. With our subsidiaries, HMO Louisiana and Southern National Life, we provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to one out of four Louisiana residents. We’re the only Louisiana insurer that offers plans in every parish. We also provide every customer with comprehensive wellness education, programs and services to help them live healthier lives. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, we have eight regional offices to serve our customers around the state.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is dedicated to transforming the healthcare industry in Louisiana into one that delivers high-quality health outcomes for our customers with top-notch service at more affordable costs. Our reputation for exceptional service and prompt payments, as well as the hard work of our 200+ in-house doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and dietitians, keeps both customer and provider satisfaction high. Surveys by the Louisiana State Medical Society and the Louisiana Hospital Association consistently rank Blue Cross the best company providers do business with.
Blue Cross is deeply committed to the communities we serve. We invest both time and money in the health and wellbeing of Louisiana children by supporting more than 200 charitable organizations. We invite and encourage all Louisianians to visit our website or talk to us on social media through our online hub.