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Patrick Springer, Published October 06 2009

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota details expense changes

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has trimmed its executive pay guidelines and is now using a regional benchmark for comparing its executive compensation.

Also, new performance targets are being drafted for executives of the health insurer, whose salary ranges and levels have been frozen, according to a letter to state insurance regulators released Monday.

Paul von Ebers, the Blues’ chief executive, and board chairman Dennis Elbert wrote in response to a directive by Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm to take steps to ensure that its expenses benefited members.

Hamm’s directives followed an examination of costs, including executive compensation and travel, that led the insurance commissioner to conclude that “millions” of dollars of health insurance premiums were misspent.

In their response, Blue Cross Blue Shield leaders said the following changes are being implemented:

The letter was submitted Friday, but Hamm’s office did not release it until Monday. The company considers attachments to the letter confidential, and Hamm is still reviewing that information.

Hamm, who was traveling Monday, was not available for comment. Blue Cross Blue Shield spokeswoman Denise Kolpack also was not immediately available for comment.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522