Chattanooga's biggest employer is cutting 2 percent of its staff to cut expenses.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced today it is eliminating 100 jobs and will leave another 100 positions vacant next year. One fourth of the job cuts involve company managers.
"Our sincere hope was to cut costs without impacting people, but this was a tough decision that we could not avoid," Bill Gracey, CEO-elect for BlueCross, said in a statement. "The health insurance industry is undergoing tremendous changes. It is growing more competitive by the day, and we are facing unprecedented challenges that require us to operate more efficiently."
BlueCross spokeswoman Mary Danielson said the eliminated positions range from jobs in the company's operations center to posts in executive management. The job cuts are being made to help hold down administrative expenses, which are restricted under new health reform laws, and to prepare for a new premium tax, which will cost Tennessee's BlueCross plan more than $200 million a year, starting in 2014.
"Beyond reform, health care costs are growing out of reach for consumers," Danielson said. "They are becoming more price-sensitive than ever. And we have to keep those costs down to make coverage affordable for them."