The state’s largest health insurer is planning to hire more than 100 workers at a new customer service center in Fayetteville but at the same time is outsourcing customer-claims work that it expects will eliminate about 250 jobs in the Triangle.
However, Chapel Hill-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina expects that the layoffs locally will be limited to 125 workers – and possibly fewer.
Another 125 employees are expected to “leave through normal attrition” before any layoffs are anticipated 18 months from now, said spokesman Lew Borman.
Borman said the affected employees have been notified of the insurer’s intentions in order to give them “lead time so they can make some plans and decisions.”
Altogether, about 375 workers in the Triangle, mostly in Durham, perform claims-related work. However, 125 of those workers are expected to be retained by Blue Cross, Borman said.
The regional customer service center is expected to open in Fayetteville before the end of the year and should employ more than 100 workers by mid-2015.
The center “will take customer calls and help us meet increased service demand because of customer growth and health care reform issues,” Borman said.
The location of the center hasn’t yet been chosen. Borman declined to give salary details but said they would be “competitive and attractive.”
Fayetteville was chosen over several other potential locations in the eastern and southeastern portion of the state because of its skilled workforce, including military veterans and military spouses, according to Blue Cross.
Borman said of the decision to outsource its claims preparation work: “We believe we can do this kind of claims work faster, more efficiently and at less cost for our customers by outsourcing it.”
The outsourced work involves preparing claims for processing, such as making sure data is displayed correctly in the proper field.
Blue Cross has been experiencing chronic delays in processing claims since late last year and recently said the problems will be resolved this month. The company blamed the delays on technology troubles, saying it was overwhelmed by the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act and by problems with a new claims-processing computer system that the insurer installed last year. The backlogs piled up when patients and doctors resubmitted their claims, and customers have complained that some claims have taken several months to process.
The company enlisted contractors and staff worked overtime to move claims through the system. The processing delays have been more than twice as high as usual, with nearly 20 percent of claims taking more than a week to process.
The work is being outsourced to Accenture, a U.S. company that provides services to 21 of the nation’s 25 largest health insurers, Borman said. Accenture’s work for Blue Cross will be handled by workers in India.
Borman said that the claims-related work that Blue Cross does for the State Health Plan and federal employees will continue to be done in-house.
Although the transition to Accenture will start later this year, “we don’t expect any actual job losses until late 2015 or early 2016,” Borman said.
Staff writer John Murawski contributed.