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Horizon BCBSNJ CEO announces retirement; COO to take over

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Robert A. Marino will retire as Horizon BCBSNJ's CEO after more than 40 years with the company.
Robert A. Marino will retire as Horizon BCBSNJ's CEO after more than 40 years with the company. - ()

Robert Marino, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s CEO, will retire at the end of the year after more than 40 years with the company. He will be replaced by Kevin Conlin, who joined the company in 2012 and was promoted chief operating officer in 2016.

Marino, who was named CEO in 2011, guided Horizon BCBSNJ through the turbulent period in the summer in which state Governor Chris Christie proposed to use the insurance company’s reserves to pay for the treatment people addicted to opioid-based painkillers. In 2015, he was named NJBIZ’s Executive of the Year, and as CEO, helped oversee the company’s push towards patient-centered healthcare. He also served as CEO when the company created the OMNIA Health Alliance, which offers patients lower-costing health insurance through in-network care providers.

Additionally, under Marino’s leadership, Horizon:

  • Grew to serve 3.8 million members, including 74,000 previously uninsured New Jerseyans who obtained coverage through the individual market, with annual revenue exceeding $12 billion in 2016.
  • Earned “Best Insurance Company” in the United States for overall customer satisfaction in 2016 and “Most Recommended Health Insurer In America” 2017 in Insure.com’s national surveys.
  • Earned the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s “Brand Excellence for Innovation Award” recognizing the positive and measurable impact of OMNIA Health Plans.
  • Strengthened its financial condition earning and maintaining an “A” credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, which recently praised management for “maintaining financial strength” and driving “various innovative payment models to make the New Jersey health-care system more effective, efficient, and affordable.”

“For 85 years, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s mission has been to provide affordable, high quality health insurance to as many people as possible and it has been a privilege to lead the amazing team of dedicated, caring employees who make that mission their personal responsibility every day,” said Marino in a prepared statement.

“When I began my career with Blue Shield of New Jersey 40 years ago, I never thought that I’d have the honor of guiding the company that has consistently led the charge to transform and improve health care in New Jersey.”

Marino also said he is confident in the company’s future under Conlin’s leadership.

“By changing the way we deliver and pay for health care through innovative partnerships, Horizon put quality, cost and customer experience above all else,” said Marino. “Under Kevin’s leadership, Horizon will be well positioned to continue redefining healthcare in New Jersey through innovative models of care that put the health and wellness of our customers in sharp focus. Kevin understands better than anyone that collaborative, patient-centered models are essential to successfully fulfilling Horizon’s mission going forward.”

Tom Bracken, CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said, “Bob has continued in the tradition of exemplary leadership at one of New Jersey’s oldest and most reputable businesses. He’s had the strength and vision to place the interests of Horizon’s members first and his work to lower healthcare costs and improve quality outcomes has had a profound impact on New Jersey’s businesses and employees.” 

Robert C. Garrett, Co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, stated, "Bob’s knowledge of the health care industry and exceptional judgement helped ensure that New Jersey’s largest provider of insurance remained an innovative company committed to excellence. Bob strengthened Horizon’s financial performance, improved health care in New Jersey for millions and set a high bar for leaders in any profession, a legacy we can all admire.

I also want to congratulate Kevin Conlin and wish him well in his new role. We’ve worked well with Kevin over the past few years in his current position as a leader at Horizon. His background, both on the provider and the insurer side, provides him with a unique skillset to succeed as Horizon’s CEO."

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio

Vince Calio covers healthcare and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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