WellPoint reviews its firms, consolidates in-house staff

INDIANAPOLIS: WellPoint, now the nation's largest health insurance company after its recent merger, is in the process of putting its agencies up for review.

INDIANAPOLIS: WellPoint, now the nation's largest health insurance company after its recent merger, is in the process of putting its agencies up for review.

Acquired by health insurer Anthem on November 30, WellPoint is also putting the finishing touches on its in-house PR team.

"We're blending together the pre-merger Anthem and the pre-merger WellPoint groups," said Ed West, SVP of corporate communications.

WellPoint named its senior communications leadership last week.

West, who was previously at Anthem, will oversee corporate communications for the newly merged entity. He will report to Angela Braly, an attorney who has been named EVP, general counsel, and chief public affairs officer. The public affairs component encompasses both government relations and corporate communications.

Braly was previously president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri. She will report directly to CEO Larry Glasscock.

West noted that a final head count has yet to be determined, but added, "We're doing business in states all the way from Maine to California. And we will have communications staff in all of those departments."

PR responsibilities will be grouped around three regions. A corporate team will operate out of the Indianapolis headquarters, formerly the headquarters for Anthem.

He added that the timeline coincides with the goal of having internal and external PR teams in place within the first 120 days of the merger.

Before the merger, Anthem had been working with New York-based SS&K, as well as LA-based Rogers & Associates.

WellPoint had worked closely with Burson-Marsteller for PR support around the merger's completion. Burson continues to provide PR support for some aspects of the new company.

It was still unclear at press time whether WellPoint will consolidate PR for the merged companies, or use several agencies. It is also unclear whether WellPoint has reached out to agencies not working with it.

WellPoint will announce its final PR staff list at the end of March, West noted.

"It's a great opportunity to give communications an integrated position in the new company," he said.

Asked about new goals for the department, West said, "It's going to be exciting. We see communications helping the merger come into place."

Anthem acquired Thousand Oaks, CA-based WellPoint, and assumed the WellPoint name, in a $16.5 billion deal. Ken Ferber, who was SVP of corporate communications for WellPoint before the merger, is on leave from the company, according to a voice message, and could not be reached for comment.

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