CHICAGO — Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), the nation’s largest customer-owned health insurer, announced today several changes to its senior leadership team. The leadership transitions reflect a thoughtful and strategic approach to long-term growth and succession planning for the company.
Dr. Opella Ernest, chief operating officer, takes on a new role effective immediately as executive vice president, HCSC Commercial Markets, succeeding Jeff Tikkanen, who announced he will retire from HCSC in March 2023. Mike Frank, senior vice president, Pharmacy and Ancillary Business, will become senior vice president, chief operating officer. Dr. Ernest and Frank will report to Maurice Smith, president and CEO of HCSC.
Jeff Tikkanen, executive vice president, Commercial Markets, will transition to an advisory role focused on market initiatives including national account strategy and key client relationships until his retirement in March 2023.
“As our strategic priorities evolve, so does our organizational structure,” said Maurice Smith president and CEO of HCSC. “Our continued focus on building our leadership bench strength allows us to continue to execute on our strategy -- to expand health care access, to deepen relationships in our communities and to advance our mission and commitments to remain the health coverage partner of choice for our stakeholders. HCSC has an action-oriented leadership team that is a result of a long-standing focus on attracting and growing top talent.”
Dr. Opella Ernest will take on her new role, effective immediately, as executive vice president, HCSC Commercial Markets. As our former chief operating officer, Dr. Ernest helped reshaped our customer and provider experience through advancements in technology and innovation. In her new role, Dr. Ernest assumes responsibility for the company’s five BCBS health plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas as well as national account growth, clinical and pharmacy operations and analytics. She joined HCSC in 2012 and has had increasing responsibility leading the company’s clinical strategy and operation as Senior Vice President, Chief Clinical Officer. She also served as Divisional Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. A board-certified family physician, she has a degree in medicine from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan
Mike Frank, senior vice president Pharmacy and Ancillary Business, will become senior vice president, chief operating officer, reporting to Dr. Ernest. In his new role, Mike will lead HCSC’s IT and Customer Service organizations. Frank joined HCSC in 2013 when BCBSMT became part of the company. Since that time as SVP, Tri-State plans, he provided strategic oversight on how HCSC served members in our Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in Montana, New Mexico and Oklahoma as well as expanding our pharmacy solutions and better understanding of our customer service needs. Previously Frank was president of the Montana plan. Other roles at the plan included chief legal and operations officer, chief administrative officer, vice president of Corporate Integrity and Human Resources, and vice president of Compliance and Ethics. He earned his Bachelor of Science in psychology from Montana State University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Montana.
“These leadership changes will position the company for continued growth and demonstrate the strength of the HCSC management bench,” said Smith. “Opella and Mike’s leadership has been instrumental in both advancing and driving HCSC strategy over the last few years. In their new roles, we will see them have even greater impact on the company’s success in the future.”
About Health Care Service Corporation
Health Care Service Corporation is the country's largest customer-owned health insurer, with more than 17 million members in its health plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. A Mutual Legal Reserve Company, HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.