CEO of Maryland Insurer CareFirst Steps Down; Interim CEO Named

November 8, 2006

William L. Jews will step down as chief executive of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield at the end of the year, the board of Maryland’s biggest health insurer said.

The decision to leave was mutual, according to board chairman Michael R. Merson, adding that Jews, 54, would “substantial” deferred compensation and retirement benefits under his employment contract. Jews was paid $1.1 million in salary and $1.4 million in “incentive compensation” last year, according to a CareFirst filing with the Maryland Insurance Administration.

Jews could not be reached for comment early Friday.

David D. Wolf, executive vice president, was named interim CEO while the board conducts a search for Jews’ replacement. Wolf, 56, joined the company in 1991, when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland bought an HMO of which he was president.

Merson said the board would form a search committee this month and set guidelines for finding a new CEO.

Jews joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland in 1993 after its chief executive quit amid charges of mismanagement and lavish spending. The company’s reserves had shrunk to $24.9 million, just 13 percent of the guidelines for an insurer that size.

Jews restored it to fiscal health and engineered the mergers that created CareFirst in 1998. Its membership more than doubled during his tenure, and its reserves are now about $1 billion.

But he was criticized when he tried to convert CareFirst to a for-profit operation in 2001 and sell it for $1.3 billion

CareFirst has nearly 3 million members in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. Revenue last year was $5.4 billion. The company has more than 5,400 employees

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