Premera Blue Cross will eliminate hundreds of jobs as it seeks to cut costs sparked by the current economic downturn.

Premera Blue Cross will eliminate hundreds of jobs as it seeks to cut costs sparked by the current economic downturn.

Mountlake Terrace-based health insurer Premera cuts 285 jobs

The layoff at Premera Blue Cross, prompted by the economic downturn, represents about 8.3% of its workforce.

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Premera Blue Cross, one of the Northwest’s largest health insurers, will eliminate 236 local jobs as it seeks to rein in costs of the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

Premera will lay off 285 people in “non-customer-facing positions” — with most job cuts occurring locally, Dani Chung, a company spokeswoman, said in an email.

“In the Puget Sound region, 236 positions will be eliminated,” Chung said.

“I cannot share specific positions as all impacted employees have not yet been notified. Positions range across the company,” Chung said.

Layoff notices were expected to be distributed beginning this week.

The Mountlake Terrace-based non-profit health insurance company employs nearly 3,500 people in the Seattle area, Spokane and Anchorage. About 2,000 employees work at the company’s corporate headquarters in Mountlake Terrace and in Bothell offices.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck full force in March, most Premera employees have been working from home.

“Unfortunately, the global pandemic and the subsequent impact to the economy has forced us to move beyond our normal efficiency and cost-saving efforts to eliminate approximately 285 non-customer-facing positions out of 3,442 employees,” Chung said in a company statement. That figure represents a cut of about 8.3%.

Chung said the pandemic and the accompanying economic downturn made layoffs necessary.

“While Premera remains strong financially, we recognize the tremendous toll the global pandemic has taken on the economy and many of our group and individual customers,” Chung said.

“Now, more than ever, affordability is the number one barrier to receiving high quality care, and we must do all that we can to reduce our costs and pass those savings on to our customers.”

The health insurer pledged to help employees through “this difficult transition, including offering generous severance packages and access to company-funded out placement services,” Chung said.

Chung said the company continues an effort to help shore up health care.

“Premera has offered more than $100 million in advance payments to doctors and hospitals to help them keep the doors open during the lockdown, more than $65 million in premium relief and rebates to our customers and $5 million to local nonprofits to address issues of health equity and social justice,” Chung said.

Premera serves more than 2 million customers in Washington and Alaska. In 2018, the company reported annual revenue of $10 billion.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, poses with a production electric engine, the magni500, at the  company's new office on Seaway Boulevard on Monday, Jan. 18, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Electric aircraft developer magniX moves HQ to Everett

The company builds electric motors, and it’s teaming with Arlington’s Eviation to launch a fully electric plane.

Matt and Jill Wurst opened Audacity Brewing in December 2020 and are now managing to stay open, with the COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, at their brewery on 10th Street on Monday, Jan. 11, 2020 in Snohomish, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
It took some Audacity to open this new Snohomish brewery

The COVID-19 pandemic hit just as Matt and Jill Wurst were getting the business off the ground.

FILE- In this Sept. 30, 202, file photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
European aviation agency: 737 Max to be cleared next week

The review of the aircraft “began with the MCAS but went far beyond.”

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, workers stand near a Boeing 737 Max airplane parked at Renton Municipal Airport next to the Boeing assembly facility in Renton, Wash., where 737 Max airplanes are made. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, the company reported final 2020 numbers for airplane orders and deliveries, and they are down from 2019 even though the 737 Max is flying again. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Canada OKs return of Boeing 737 Max aircraft

The planes will be permitted to fly as long as they meet specific safety conditions.

Garry Clark
Economic Alliance Snohomish County names new CEO

After nationwide search, Garry Clark, a Nebraska business advocate, will take the helm in February.

Snohomish Delivers concierge Sarah Dylan Jensen picks up tea from Everything Tea on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2020 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A Snohomish service brings goods from the store to your door

Developed by the city, Snohomish Delivers encourages online shoppers to look local. And it’s free.

Arthur Sepulveda, 32, has been looking for his first home since July. He put in bids for four houses and finally found one last month in Lynnwood directly from the builder. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Low mortgage rates fuel a frenzied, revved-up housing market

Home prices are soaring and bidding wars are back, and Snohomish County “Zoom towns” are hot locations.

Adam Ling works securing rebar reinforcement for a set of stairs on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2020 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
With lots of people working at home, a rush for renovations

Homeowners with remodeling plans are keeping local contractors busy. Winter hasn’t slowed them down.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, workers stand near a Boeing 737 Max airplane parked at Renton Municipal Airport next to the Boeing assembly facility in Renton, Wash., where 737 Max airplanes are made. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, the company reported final 2020 numbers for airplane orders and deliveries, and they are down from 2019 even though the 737 Max is flying again. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Boeing deliveries drop despite 737 Max’s return to flight

The company has borrowed billions and cut thousands of jobs to reduce costs.

Kim Williams, CEO of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and Providence Northwest, will retire July 1. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Kim Williams, the local Providence CEO, will retire July 1

She was born at Providence in Everett and leads the health care provider’s northwest Washington group.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 file photo, a United Airlines Boeing 737 Max airplane takes off in the rain at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash. Boeing improperly influenced a test designed to see how quickly pilots could respond to malfunctions on the Boeing 737 Max, and Federal Aviation Administration officials may have obstructed a review of two deadly crashes involving the plane, Senate investigators say. In a report released Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 the Senate Commerce Committee also said the FAA continues to retaliate against whistleblowers.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing to pay $2.5B to settle criminal charge over 737 Max

The settlement includes money for crash victims’ families, airline customers and airlines, and a fine.

Britt Morgan, left, who manages the Scriber Creek Apartments and twin sister Rachel Morgan, who manages the Madison Way Apartments on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Twin bridges in the challenging landlord-tenant relationship

When the rent is unpaid, property owners and lessors look to Rachel and Britt Morgan for help.