Spokane Journal of Business

Premera promotes Bill Akers

Executive will remain manager of Spokane office

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Mountlake Terrace, Wash.-based Premera Blue Cross, one of the Inland Northwest’s largest providers of health care plans, has promoted Spokane-based Bill Akers to vice president and general manager of Premera’s Washington Group Market, says Premera spokesman Eric Earling. 

The company has recruited Seattle-based Beth Johnson, formerly vice president of network management and content strategy at Seattle-based Regence Blue Shield, to replace Akers as vice president of Premera’s health care delivery systems, Earling says. Johnson will be based at Premera’s headquarters in Mountlake Terrace, he says. 

Akers will be responsible for managing Premera’s group and employer business statewide.  His position focuses on attracting and retaining Washington state employers with up to about 5,000 employees, Earling says. 

“Really what he’s moving from is playing a major role in our contracting work and collaborating with providers … to a role focusing on how we serve our employer customers, with employer groups ranging from small up to large,” he says. “It’s a pretty big cross section of employers.”

Akers has been the general manager of Premera’s Spokane office since 2007, and will retain that role in his new position. He joined Premera in 2004 and became vice president of health care delivery systems in 2005. 

Johnson will be responsible for managing both Premera’s provider networks and its affiliates’ provider networks in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. She also will be responsible for the company’s value-based payment and delivery system reforms. 

“Beth will be focused on building the work Bill laid the foundation for,” Earling says. 

Part of this role will be to expand Premera’s global outcomes contracting model, which is a rewards-based model that focuses on patient outcomes, not services. 

“It’s something Bill has been heavily focused on, so Beth will play a key role in that as well,” Earling says.  

Johnson spent six years at Regence Blue Shield and 10 years at First Choice Health, of Spokane, prior to that.

Premera is part of a Mountlake-based family of companies that offer health, life, vision, dental, stop-loss, disability, workforce-wellness, and other products. Together, the companies employ more than 3,600 people and provide health care coverage to about 1.9 million people in Washington state.

Katie Ross
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Reporter Katie Ross covers manufacturing, hospitality, and government at the Journal of Business. An outdoor enthusiast and snowboard fanatic, Katie is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University.  

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