17 Jul 2019

Meet the Team – Product Development

Bruce Bahn, Vice President, Product Development shares a day-in-the-life of the Product Development team at BCS, and provides additional insights into the recent launch of our EssentialCare Accident and Critical Illness policies.

Q: Describe your/your team’s role at BCS.
A: The Product function at BCS Financial contributes to the growth and profitability of the organization by leading the selection, development, and maintenance of the BCS product portfolio. We are involved in a wide variety of projects which can range from strategic investments and partnerships in new businesses to new and improved features of our current product portfolio. Our key value-add is (to collaborate with business and a functional leaders) to ensure that BCS makes the best decisions in selecting and developing new and improved products incorporating a fact-based view of the customer, the marketplace, competitive set and industry environment.

Q: Tell us about a project you are working on now.
A: While I’ve had the opportunity to work on a very diverse set of projects in my first four years at BCS, the most significant project I’ve been involved with is leading the development of our new portfolio of supplemental health products including Hospital Indemnity, Critical Illness, and Accident Insurance. Like BCBS health insurance, these are products that are sold via expert agents and brokers to employers who in turn offer them to their employees as part of their benefits package. Over the last couple of years, a BCS cross-functional team has worked diligently to develop, file, and launch market-leading products that offer innovative benefits, product features, and broker / customer support capabilities. The effort to design comprehensive and flexible products for a broad range of employer sizes and needs (100-10,000+ employees) and obtain approval for all three products in all 51 states and jurisdictions has been a significant undertaking. July 2019 is the milestone month for our formal market launch with approved products in as many as 75% of country with the expectation for full nationwide availability by the end of the year. Because we are a relatively new competitor, I suspect it will take some time for the market to recognize everything BCS is bringing to the market with this new portfolio. However, given the scale of the opportunity and continued growth of the supplemental health benefits market, I see tremendous future opportunity for BCS and its’ owners.

Q: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: For me, the most rewarding aspects of new product development are those somewhat rare occasions when you can meaningfully add to the value that a product provides a customer in new or unique way. In reviewing numerous critical illness insurance product filings from established competitors, it was apparent that they all did a very good in providing customers with the essential financial support in the event of a serious physical ailment. However, none of the products I reviewed included a benefit for those inflicted with a serious mental illness. To me this was a clear gap in the coverage that BCS had the opportunity to address. So with the help of our actuarial partners, we developed a special rider that provides a benefit when a BCS EssentialCare critical illness policyholder is diagnosed with the three most common kinds of serious mental health conditions: Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Schizophrenia. This new-to-market solution can provide a needed financial support if a person’s mental illness disrupts their life in the same way as a physical condition.

Q: Describe the perfect day off.
A: A walk along the Lake Michigan shore on a beautiful summer day with my family and our dogs.

Q: What’s one non-insurance product you can’t live without?
A: The amount and pace of innovation is the greatest it’s ever been. So many new products will be emerging in the 5-10 years that will address needs we didn’t even know we had. The process of exchanging information will be at the heart of many of these new solutions for daily living, health care delivery, financial services, etc. So while it’s a predictable answer, I’m going to say the product I couldn’t live without is the smartphone. It is and will continue to be at the very center of information exchange at a personal level.

08 Jul 2019

BCS Financial Announces New EssentialCare Accident and Critical Illness Products

BCS Financial, a national insurance organization owned by all 36 Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans, announces today it has expanded its EssentialCare line of products to include Group Accident and Group Critical Illness policies. The products, underwritten by BCS Insurance Company, help protect consumers from the rising costs of out-of-pocket medical expenses.

“Research shows us that many Americans with health insurance struggle to pay for deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, leaving them at financial risk,” said BCS Financial Senior Vice President, Marketing, Product, and Strategic Ventures, James Drew. “Ancillary products like Accident, Critical Illness, and Hospital Indemnity can help bridge the gap and offer financial protection when a serious accident, injury, or illness occurs.”

EssentialCare Group Accident Indemnity and Critical Illness join the Hospital Indemnity product launched Fall 2018 to create a suite of easy, affordable, and adaptable solutions for employers and their employees. All products include:

·         Guaranteed issue, with no networks or coordination of benefits

·         Flexible plan design, enrollment, and onboarding options

·         Broad set of benefits from which to choose

·         Fixed payments made directly to the member to spend as they choose

·         Best-in-class administration

·         A unique suite of caregiver and support service coverages in eligible states, such as wellness, dependent adult and child care, transportation, lodging, and more

Accident Indemnity

The EssentialCare Accident policy features up to 54 benefit types, including a Non-Professional Organized Sports benefit and Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) benefit built into the certificate. 24-hour and off-the-job coverage is available.

Critical Illness

The EssentialCare Critical Illness policy provides coverage for up to 35 of the most significant and frequent critical illnesses, plus eight childhood conditions. The product is a finalist for the Insurance Nexus “New Product of the Year Award”, thanks to its new-to-market, groundbreaking mental health rider available to provide coverage for severe mental illness.

“EssentialCare products are modular and adaptable to provide the most options for employer groups,” Drew said. “We have a robust set of benefits to fit employer needs and underlying plan designs – whether a group is looking for a base plan with HSA compatibility, or a benefit-rich design to support employee lifestyles, we can provide the coverage they need.”

All EssentialCare products are underwritten by BCS Insurance Company, and available exclusively through BCS brokers and the BCS Insurance Agency. To learn more about BCS Financial, visit bcsf.com.

About BCS Financial Corporation

BCS Financial Corporation has more than 70 years of experience delivering a wide range of insurance and financial solutions for Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations nationwide. Through its subsidiaries, BCS Insurance Company and 4 Ever Life Insurance Company, BCS is licensed in all 50 states and is rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best. BCS Financial is headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Learn more at bcsf.com.

About EssentialCare Group Products

ESSENTIALCARE LIMITED BENEFIT, GROUP ACCIDENT, GROUP CRITICAL ILLNESS AND GROUP HOSPITAL INDEMNITY ARE LIMITED BENEFIT POLICIES – READ YOUR POLICY CAREFULLY. THESE POLICIES ARE NOT MAJOR MEDICAL INSURANCE AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR MAJOR MEDICAL COVERAGE. BCS EssentialCare insurance products are underwritten by BCS Insurance Company, OH (Administrative Offices: Oakbrook Terrace, IL). See policy documents for a complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations, and conditions of coverage. Features and availability by vary by location and are subject to change. In some states, EssentialCare products are pending regulatory approval.


For more information, please contact Nathan Post at 630.472.7860.

26 Jun 2019

Meet the Team – Compliance

Our June Meet the Team post features Michele O’Doherty, Manager, Policy Development and Issuance. Read on as Michele gives us a peek into the Compliance Department.

Q: Describe your/your team’s role at BCS.

A: The Compliance team’s role in the organization is very diverse. We provide direction and support in the development and filing of new products to ensure product forms are compliant with federal and state laws, and approved by the applicable state regulatory agencies. In addition, the Compliance Department is responsible for review of managed care requirements and reporting, state annual reporting and data calls, coordinating state market conduct exams, tracking and responding to consumer complaints, and disseminating new laws and regulations to maintain and ensure existing products are in compliance. We work with all internal operational departments and external business partners to provide support, guidance, and oversight.

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: Busy – Every day brings on new challenges, opportunities, and collaboration in seeking solutions to situations that need to be dealt with.

Q: What skills does someone need to succeed in your role?

A: Strong interpersonal skills such as team work, dependability, and flexibility; good written and oral communication skills, analytical skills, and attention to detail.

Q: What do you like most about working at BCS?

A: The people, the opportunities, and the collaboration with a group of dedicated people.

Q: The Compliance department ensures the company follows insurance regulation and rules. What’s the “golden rule” you live by? 

A: Always do what is right.

21 Jun 2019
Summer Sun...and Accidents?


Today marks the official first day of summer, and with that comes warmer weather, longer days – and accidents?

It’s true. All the great things we love about summer like cookouts and pool parties can also translate to accidents and injuries. According to Kaiser Permanente, there is a 15 to 27% increase in visits to emergency rooms between Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Top summer medical issues include:

  • Heat-related illnesses
  • Drowning and other pool injuries, like slips and falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Food poisoning
  • Burns and cuts

Are your clients protecting their employees this summer? EssentialCare Group Accident Indemnity provides fixed benefits in the event of a covered accident or injury, helping employees pay for major medical deductibles, copays, and more. And, it can be sold year-round, meaning you don’t have to wait for the 1/1 selling season to offer to your clients!

Contact BCS today to learn more.

05 Jun 2019

Peter Costello named President and Chief Operating Officer of BCS Financial Corporation

BCS Financial Corporation announces today that Peter Costello has been appointed as President and Chief Operating Officer of BCS Financial Corporation, effective May 21. Scott Beacham will remain as Chief Executive Officer through November 30.

“We’re pleased to welcome Peter Costello in his newly expanded role as President and Chief Operating Officer of BCS Financial Corporation,” said Dan Loepp, Chairman of the BCS Board of Directors. “During this time of transformation in the healthcare industry, we are confident that Peter possesses the experience, perspective, and capabilities necessary to lead and grow BCS in the coming years.”

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be asked to lead this successful team of talented and dedicated associates during this period of dramatic change in our industry,” said Costello. “I look forward to everything we can accomplish together, while continuing to provide the growth, diversification, and protection solutions our customers expect from us.”

Costello, who previously served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, brings more than 20 years of experience in healthcare and technology to his new role. Prior to joining BCS in 2014, Costello was Senior Vice President at Cogito Corp., a behavior analytics company named by Inc. Magazine as one of 2014’s fastest growing companies. Peter served as Vice President at both Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Excellus Health Plan, and co-founded two technology-based startups. Peter also served as an officer in the United States Navy and holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics from Providence College, a Masters Certificate in Systems Engineering from University of California, Irvine, and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and Statistics from the University of Illinois.

Scott Beacham, who has served as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board since March 2008, will continue his role as Chief Executive Officer until November 30, 2019. Beacham possesses
40 years of experience with Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, previously serving as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Excellus Health Plan, Inc., and as a business advisor for Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc., a Washington, D.C. affiliate of CareFirst, Inc.

“Scott Beacham is an exceptional business leader who has served the company with dedication and pride during his tenure. Over the past decade, he has transformed the culture of BCS Financial Corporation into one that supports, protects, and enhances the success of Blue Companies across the country. His vision, along with his commitment to excellence, has enabled BCS to consistently deliver for its shareholders and left a lasting mark on the organization,” said Dan Loepp. “On behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank Scott for his contributions to BCS and wish him well in his future pursuits.”

31 May 2019

Meet the Team – Underwriting

This month, Hilda Ayala, Voluntary Benefits Analyst, shares insights to her job in Underwriting, and what she’s experienced since joining Team BCS in November 2018.

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: There’s no typical day at BCS, everything depends on the time of year. Fourth quarter is our busiest season for new business and renewals; during the first and second quarter, we focus on updating underwriting and related business materials, cross training in all areas of our department, and creating a more efficient workflow for the coming fourth quarter.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I love the challenge, and how my manager constantly believes in me. She has pushed me on projects that I thought were way beyond my abilities.

Q: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?

A: In my short 7 months, I have participated in many projects, but my favorite was my first project on “policy fulfillment”. Contracts and Underwriting had recently joined as one team, and cross training was crucial and completed in less than two weeks. The goal was to release over 400 policies, which was accomplished in less than two months! It was a great satisfaction to know I had joined the best team.

Q: What skills does someone need to succeed in your role?

A: Willingness to learn and the ability to work as part of a team is very important.

Q: Describe your department in three words.

A: Teamwork, Fun, and Fast-paced

25 Apr 2019

Meet the Team – Investments

Meet Anthony Bongiorno, Manager, Investments and Client Relations and get to know his role at BCS.

Q: Describe your major responsibilities at BCS.

A: My role at BCS is dual focused. I am responsible for managing the investment assets of BCS.  I am also a part of the Financial Services Solutions segment at BCS, which includes operating and marketing Plan Investment Fund, a SEC registered mutual fund company with a singular focus on Blue Cross Blue Shield entities.

Q: What key projects are you working on now?

A: We are currently exploring creating a BCS Cash Portal exclusively for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which would allow Blues to invest in a diversified suite of liquidity products.

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that each day is different from the next. Depending on what time of year it is my focus can either be on our investment performance and manager evaluation, marketing Plan Investment Fund, exploring ways we can add value to Blue Plans through our Financial Services Solutions or helping to foster the “having fun, getting things done” culture we have at BCS through my work on the Culture Team.

Q: What drew you to work for BCS?

A: I was interested in a company where I could dive deeper into the investment world and also be a part of a firm where I could make an impact. Coming from a large company where it was much harder to make an impression, I was drawn to the opportunity that BCS presented of working on a small team within Financial Services at a company with a very unique mission. BCS is a community of individuals working together versus a hierarchy of different roles and responsibilities. Everyone’s work and opinions matter and are integral to the success and culture of the organization.

Q: What’s your favorite way to invest in yourself?

A: My favorite way to invest in myself is through reading, always asking questions and putting the work in. There are certain people you come across in life that it seems like things come as second nature to them, whether it be in their career or a hobby. I have always been a person where if I have a desire to learn or get better at something, I need to read, talk to people about it and practice at it. I believe that any person can succeed in any career or hobby if they put their mind to it. For me to do that I need to continue learning.

11 Apr 2019

IT Department Participates in Biannual Hackathon Event

Twice a year, BCS’ IT department participates in a “Hackathon” that allows employees two days off to spend time honing their craft. Participants can use the time to learn new technologies, address a nagging problem, or innovate new concepts and ideas to better the business.

Last month, seven cross-functional teams participated in Hackathon projects, including:

  • Improving the project tracking and requirements process
  • Maximizing the Office 365 suite to automate approval processes and flows
  • Innovating ideas for the Culture Team
  • Refreshing internal databases and processes

These events provide opportunities for innovation, imagination, and initiative, and help further our company and our culture.

01 Apr 2019

BCS Financial Wins Award for Business Excellence

Award recognizes successful suburban businesses and the people who make them successful

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., April 1, 2019 – BCS Financial announces today that it is the recipient of the Daily Herald Business Ledger’s Annual Award for Business Excellence (AABE).  The AABEs are given to suburban Chicago businesses who achieve outstanding results in the areas of business achievement, growth and community involvement.

“Our company strives for excellence every day in our growth strategies, business execution, and community involvement,” said BCS Financial President and CEO, Scott Beacham. “This prestigious award honors our commitment to business excellence, and recognizes the hard work and dedication of our 130 employees.”

BCS Financial, owned by all Blue Cross and Blue Shield primary licensees, provides strategic insurance solutions for insurance companies, brokers, agents, administrators, employers, employees, and individuals worldwide. BCS is recognized in the medium size company (51-150 employees) category. The company was judged on criteria including its storied history, philanthropic involvement, recent EssentialCare® Hospital Indemnity, Accident, and Critical Illness product launches, and its efforts to increase the economic vitality of the Oak Brook community.

“BCS is proud of its long legacy in the Chicagoland area, and is honored to receive the 29th Annual Award for Business Excellence on behalf of our employees, our customers, and key business partners,” adds Beacham.

About BCS Financial Corporation

BCS Financial Corporation has more than 70 years of experience delivering a wide-range of insurance and financial solutions for Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations nationwide. Through its subsidiaries, BCS Insurance Company and 4 Ever Life Insurance Company, BCS is licensed in all 50 states and is rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best. BCS Financial is headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Learn more at bcsf.com.

For more information, please contact Nathan Post at 630.472.7860.

27 Mar 2019

Meet the Team – Cyber

This month we feature Tammy Kocher, director, Cyber Liability Underwriting, and the 2018 Christine Pulak award recipient.

Tammy was nominated twice for this year’s Pulak award. Nominators described her as a “positive force that services both internal and external partners” and an “infectious influencer” that people gravitate to for “personal touch and subject matter expertise.” Read on for more positivity and a peek into the daily life of a Cyber Underwriter at BCS.

Q: Describe your role at BCS.

A: I am the lead underwriter for our BCS cyber portfolio, which includes CyberBlue, our product designed for Blue Cross Blue Shield companies, and Excess Cyber Liability, where I work with companies of all shapes and sizes on an excess basis.

My role is a blend of technical underwriting (pricing and analysis of cyber risk), product management, account management, relationship management, and sales all rolled into one exciting role!

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: There’s no such thing as a typical day. I like to say I have traded in my D1 Collegiate hoopster high-tops for my new sport “juggling” for the last 15 years in Cyber—and I could not be more thrilled.

The key for me every single day is connecting and educating, while bringing in new clients and keeping the ones we have very satisfied. I develop and foster connections with brokers and clients, analyze and assess risk, and manage the pricing strategy for our products, and more.

I also connect with my amazing internal teammates, as well as our extremely talented partners in London, in all stages of what I do to accomplish our goal. I am the conduit to being sure I get all our key partners involved.

Q: What do you like most about your job? 

A: It all comes down to helping people.  I work with the best brokers in the industry, the most passionate and sophisticated clients, and teammates that continue to inspire me to be my best and bring my best.

I am also very involved with my professional and personal network of cyber colleagues outside the company, I speak at many events, and I dedicate time to learning and reading about cyber threats, market development and news. No matter how long you’ve been in the business, there’s always an opportunity to learn and I am a proud and networked cyber nerd!

Q: You joined BCS in August 2016. What drew you to the company?

A: I was originally hesitant to leave a job I liked in the city for a role in the suburbs, but I saw the culture at BCS as one that would let me use my skills, and be a part of a very talented team. I was drawn to the “entrepreneurial role”, which would involve wearing a lot of hats, and company that BCS is. I went with my gut, and it was the best decision.

Q: As an underwriter, you assess risk. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

A: I was given the opportunity to speak in front of the Secret Service and create a panel within my network to speak about cyber insurance.  I speak at a lot of events, but this of course is at a super high-level of professional detail. It was an extremely gratifying experience – I learned as much from them as they did from me/us.