H.R. Brereton “Gubby” Barlow, who has led Premera Blue Cross since 2000, is retiring, the company said Tuesday.
His successor, Jeff Roe, has been president of Premera since Jan. 1, a post previously held by Barlow.
In the early 2000s, Barlow was the lead figure in a bid to transform the nonprofit company to a for-profit entity, saying it needed cash from investors to grow and improve service.
Ultimately, that bid failed, but Barlow earned kudos — and bonuses — inside the company.
“Gubby has been a transformational leader at Premera,” said Kathy Munro, lead director of Premera’s board and chair of the succession committee, in a statement. The company’s growth, values, operational excellence and customer-service excellence,” she said, “are a reflection of Gubby’s outstanding leadership.”
Barlow, 63, will continue in an executive capacity with Premera for the rest of the year to assist Roe in transition.
Roe has an “exceptional record,” Barlow said, and is an “effective strategist, thoughtful team builder and decisive leader.” Prior to Roe’s selection as board president, he led the company’s employer and individual market segments throughout the Pacific Northwest. He has been with Premera since 1996.
The company said Roe’s selection as CEO was the result of an extended succession planning process by the board. “The board is thrilled to have Jeff lead Premera at a time of significant change in the health-care system,” Munro said.
Premera provides health benefits and insurance services to more than 1.6 million people.