CEO: Reflecting on BCBSM's 85-Year History

Daniel J. Loepp

| 6 min read

Daniel J. Loepp is President and Chief Executive Officer of...

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), our members guide and inspire us — they are the reason our company exists. Throughout our 85-year history, we’ve worked tirelessly to build a legacy as a trusted health insurance brand and health care partner that provides access to high-quality, affordable and appropriate care wherever and whenever it’s needed.
BCBSM is a pioneer in the national health insurance industry. We were among the first pre-paid health insurance plans in the nation, started by doctors and hospitals in the 1930s to ensure people could access affordable health care. As industrialization expanded, so did recognition of the benefits and security of our plans — by 1948, both Blue Cross and Blue Shield surpassed 1 million members. In the 1970s, we led the way to create Michigan’s first statewide HMO network — Blue Care Network — by bringing together smaller HMOs serving regions of the state; also in that decade, the plans known as Michigan Blue Cross and Michigan Blue Shield consolidated and became Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Transformation: ACA and the path to mutualization

In 2012 and 2013, we engaged state leaders to change our company’s regulatory structure in advance of the Affordable Care Act. BCBSM’s transition in 2014 to a nonprofit mutual health insurance company helped bring Michigan’s health insurance regulatory system into the 21st century and allowed us to fully participate in Michigan’s health insurance marketplace — where we are the only carrier to have consistently offered individual health plans in each of Michigan’s 83 counties.
Becoming a nonprofit mutual opened a new chapter in our continuing efforts to better serve our members, starting with a stronger platform for innovation and the ability to diversify into other product lines. This transformation also enabled Blue Cross and our subsidiary companies to serve more customers in a variety of insurance markets, which provided greater depth and breadth of health insurance product offerings.
It made Blue Cross what it is today — a diversified, multi-business enterprise providing Commercial, Medicaid and Medicare health insurance benefits, as well as workers’ compensation solutions, health care technology and specialty benefits like hospital recovery and long-term care insurance.

Advancing health care in the 21st century

As health care continues to change, so has BCBSM. Our company has focused on initiatives that center on the affordability of care and the health and well-being of our members including working with providers to improve outcomes.
We have promoted the quality and cost effectiveness of generic drugs, created wellness plans and worked with health care providers through the Value Partnerships collection of programs, which began in 2005.
The programs reshaped the way health care is delivered and redefined how we pay for health care — moving reimbursement to a value-based model that pays for quality, overall experience and outcomes. These results have moderated health costs as repeated tests were avoided, complications and errors were reduced, ER visits and hospital stays were prevented, and care was coordinated.
We are evolving payment models through our groundbreaking Blueprint for Affordability value-based care initiative. Launched in 2019, it has grown quickly as provider organizations have recognized the value of working under these new payment arrangements. Blueprint today includes 25 health systems and physician organizations providing care to more than 1 million BCBSM and BCN members.
Our longstanding Collaborative Quality Initiatives program is nationally recognized, with over 20 programs statewide operating to address many of the most common, costly areas of surgical and medical care; over 100 hospitals currently participate in the CQIs program.
Another important component of Value Partnerships is the Physician Group Incentive Program, which includes 40 physician organizations representing 20,000 practitioners who collect data, share best practices and collaborate on initiatives to help improve health care delivery across Michigan.

Growth of business

As health care continues to change, our company continues to purposefully grow and evolve.
Becoming a nonprofit mutual was a historic move that strengthened the company and benefited all the people of Michigan. It enabled BCBSM and our subsidiary companies to serve more customers in a variety of insurance markets, providing greater depth and breadth of health insurance product offerings.
Through partnerships and investments, BCBSM has expanded into emerging markets — including a move in 2011 to become a minority owner of AmeriHealth Caritas, a national Medicaid managed care company; and another in 2022 to enable AF Group, a BCBSM subsidiary offering primarily workers’ compensation insurance, to purchase AmeriTrust Group to diversify our product and solution offerings.
In 2021, to further investment in new technologies and different ways to deliver solutions, BCBSM purchased NASCO, a provider of innovative health care technology for other Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensed plans. NASCO services over 20 million Blue members across the nation.
In 2022, the enterprise acquired physician management organization TRIARQ to ensure providers have access to a comprehensive set of services to support their administrative, financial and clinical performance.
In 2023, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont formally affiliated. Under a pioneering model, BCBS Vermont became the first Blue Cross and Blue Shield-licensed plan outside of Michigan to join our enterprise. This structure allows BCBS Vermont to retain its local identity while benefiting from the scale and expertise of our company. It also benefits our business by increasing our competitive position and lowering our costs through scale.

Commitment to Michigan

For 85 years, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has served a unique purpose in Michigan: to provide our members with statewide and national access to affordable health care, while also serving our communities in ways that no other health insurer can.
Over the years, BCBSM’s mission has evolved, but has always focused on making Michigan healthier. We support this historic responsibility in several unique ways.
In the process of becoming a nonprofit mutual insurance company, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund was created. BCBSM provides full financial backing of the Health Fund and has committed to contribute $1.56 billion over 18 years to benefit Michigan residents, specifically children and seniors, through the work of the independently governed and managed Health Fund. Since 2014, we have contributed $910 million of that commitment.
Blue Cross is also proud to be the single largest private funder of Michigan’s free clinics. Our Strengthening the Safety Net program offers grants to community-based and volunteer clinics providing medical, dental and behavioral health care, including patient navigation. Since 2005, we have invested over $19 million in grant funding to clinics providing free or low-cost health care for uninsured, underinsured and vulnerable Michigan residents.
Another way we make a difference is through our school-based Building Healthy Communities program, which focuses on the fundamentals of healthy eating, emotional well-being and physical activity. Since 2009, we’ve reached more than 1,200 schools and 538,000 students.

Thank you

I’m proud of how our company has continued to evolve to best serve our members and customers for 85 years. We’re a strong company that is open to change and always seeking to innovate. From 2006 through 2024, I’ve had the privilege of serving as president and CEO — it’s been the best job that I’ve ever had, and it’s been an honor to serve our members and communities.
I want to say thank you to our members for placing your trust in our company. You can be assured that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will always work hard to earn your confidence, ensure you receive the very best experiences and have the care and support you need to live your healthiest life.
Daniel J. Loepp is president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Photo credit: BCBSM
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association