The “strategic affiliation” of two health insurers that operate Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in five states makes it more difficult for Anthem to expand using the valuable Blues brand in new markets.
Cambia Health Solutions and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) said this week the are forming a “strategic affiliation” that merges operations and management of two companies operating Blues plans on the East and West coasts.
That makes it less likely the larger Cambia wants to sell to the publicly-traded, investor-owned Anthem, which is the nation’s second largest health insurer and operates Blues plans in 14 states. Anthem had no comment about the Cambia-Blue Cross NC deal, but Anthem executives said earlier this month they are focused on growing and adding on to the business that they have.
It’s tough for Anthem to buy other Blues plans for a variety of reasons, making the health insurer “landlocked” as its rivals have been known to say when it comes to certain marketing.
Rules of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association prevent Anthem from using the well-recognized Blue Cross and Blue Shield brand in regions where Anthem doesn’t have the Blue Cross license or own a Blues plan. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is a trade group and lobby for 36 “locally operated” Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies, which are able to market their Blue brand via licenses with the association.