Health insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will open an office in Minneapolis that will eventually house 100 employees, the company announced Monday.
Blue Cross, which is based in Eagan, said it's opening its first office in the city in the Broadway Place East building in northeast Minneapolis in January, primarily because it was recently awarded the contract to provide health insurance to Hennepin County residents through Minnesota's managed care programs.
Blue Cross expects it will have some 100,000 new enrollees statewide as a result of the new state contracts.
“The new Minneapolis Mid-City Office allows us to expand our reach within Hennepin County,” said CEO Michael Guyette in the news release. “This space offers a more accessible location for those seeking employment in and near the area."
Blue Cross is leasing 29,000 square feet of space in the building. It will transfer 30 employees from other locations and will add 70 new positions, the Star Tribune reports.
Blue Cross wins state contracts over UCare
Under a bidding process used for the first time this year, Blue Cross Blue Shield won state contracts to provide health care through MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance in the bulk of Minnesota’s counties. Health Partners and Medica were awarded the rest.
UCare, which had been the main provider of those benefits, was rejected because its bid was too high. That means some 370,000 people who are insured through UCare this year must switch to other carriers for 2016.
As a result, UCare announced last month is was eliminating about 245 positions.
The proximity of Blue Cross's Minneapolis location – only about a mile from UCare's headquarters – has led to speculation that it may hire some former UCare employees.
A Blue Cross spokesman didn't respond directly to a question about that, but said to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: “We evaluated several locations within Minneapolis and determined that this building best met our needs.”
Blue Cross announced in August it will eliminate 450 IT jobs over the next four years because it is upgrading to more flexible and efficient technology platforms and phasing out older IT systems.
About MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance
For MinnesotaCare, the income limit for eligibility is 133 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines – that’s a family of one making about $15,000-$23,000 a year.
It’s funded by a state tax on Minnesota hospitals and health care providers, federal Medicaid funds and enrollee premiums, according to the Department of Human Services.
Those making less are eligible for the separate Medical Assistance program, which is the largest of Minnesota’s publicly funded health program with about 700,000 enrolled, the department says. State and federal funds help pay for it.