PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has laid off 58 ofits employees and eliminated 45 other vacant jobs, the insurerannounced Wednesday.
“The decision to reduce our workforce was very difficult,particularly during these challenging economic times,” saidLaura Calenda, a spokeswoman for Blue Cross.
This is at least the third round of layoffs at Blue Cross sinceRhode Island’s economy began to weaken more than three yearsago. The insurer cut 39 jobs in September 2007 and eliminated anadditional 74 jobs about a year later.
The latest cuts were made “to ensure BCBSRI’sfinancial stability” by reducing expenses and to help keephealth care costs from rising further for its roughly 600,000members, Calenda said.
In April, Blue Cross disclosed that it lost $100 million in 2009as its revenue rose to $1.7 billion but expenses hit $1.8 billion.CEO James Purcell said then that the insurer’s premiums werenot keeping pace with the rising cost of medical care.
Earlier this month, R.I. Health Insurance CommissionerChristopher Koller said he would allow Blue Cross to increasepremiums for employers by 9.8 percent in 2011. The insurer hadsought approval for increases of 12.4 percent to 13.2 percent.
Blue Cross is by far the most dominant health insurer in RhodeIsland, covering 79 percent of the state’s insured populationin 2007, according to the American Medical Association.Second-ranked UnitedHealth Group Inc. covered just 16 percent.
Blue Cross said it still has more than 1,000 employees evenafter the 103 job cuts announced Wednesday. The company moved intoits $90 million new 13-story headquarters overlooking WaterplacePark in Providence last fall.
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