PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and its subsidiary, Regence Life and Health Insurance Company, to A- (Excellent) from B++ (Very Good). The outlook for this rating is being revised to stable from positive. A.M. Best is considered to be the most authoritative insurance rating and information source in the world. According to A.M. Best, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon's improved rating reflects its growth in earnings, with underwriting and net income more than doubling in 2005. Strengthening capital position and membership gains were also cited as factors in the improved rating. The improvement in operating performance is attributed to corrective measures implemented, which include the strategic focus on core customer segments, revisions to product pricing and increased leveraging of The Regence Group's management and financial resources. Regence Life and Health's rating improved as the result of underwriting earnings, strong risk-based capitalization and operational support from The Regence Group. "We were very pleased to learn that A.M. Best has upgraded our rating. It is something we can take pride in, as it reflects the hard work of all Regence employees to enhance our performance and the commitment they have to serving our members," said J. Bart McMullan, Jr., M.D., president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon. "Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon's capitalization has strengthened as a result of earnings, which has allowed the level of risk-based capital to improve. The level of risk-based capital was determined to be more than adequate to handle additional growth. Although membership declined during the past two years as the company re-priced business and exited from its commercial HMOs, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon has experienced new enrollment due to an increase in sales and improved retention on its existing business. This has led to an overall growth of 3.7% in the first seven months of 2006," according to AM Best's report on Regence's improved ratings. "Regence Life and Health's favorable underwriting trend is forecast to continue during the medium term," according to the report. In addition "the company's stable, single-digit underwriting returns continue to strengthen risk-based capital," providing adequate capacity to support what A.M. Best predicts will be sales growth in existing and new markets. Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon provides medical, dental and related coverage for about one million members in Oregon and in Clark County, Washington. For more than 20 years, Regence Life and Health has offered quality life and disability products and health plans. Both are part of the Regence Group, the largest affiliation of health plans in the northwest and intermountain states, collectively covering nearly three million people. The Regence Group and its affiliates are not-for-profit independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Nearly one in three Americans has health care coverage through Blue Plans. For more information, visit www.or.regence.com.
SOURCE Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon