By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The economy in crisis claims more victims and this time it is at Oklahoma's largest private health insurer. Blue Cross Blue Shield announced that it will slash 200 jobs in Tulsa over the next six months. The company says many of the jobs will be relocated to Abilene, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Tulsa employees will be heading to Texas.
Tough times mean tough decisions at a major Tulsa employer. On Wednesday, Blue Cross Blue Shield informed 200 employees that their positions will be phased out over the next six months.
"These individuals who are impacted are colleagues and friends. So it's a challenging time," said Blue Cross Blue Shield's Michelle Riddell.
Riddell says the vast majority of the jobs are in claims and customer service jobs, located at the company's Boulder building. Blue Cross blames a weak economy and looming health care reform that is not likely to benefit insurance companies, as reasons for the cuts.
"We don't exactly what will happen with health care reform. We're paying as close attention, as many people are, to what's happening," said Blue Cross Blue Shield's Michelle Riddell.
The positions are heading south to Abilene, Texas. Since it's a cost-cutting move, there won't be 200 new positions there. The company says employees are welcome to apply for a job and remain with Blue Cross. But, the move to Texas would likely come with a pay cut.
"There is a different pay structure in Abilene, so yes it could involve an adjustment to pay," said Blue Cross Blue Shield's Michelle Riddell.
Blue Cross says the cuts were a last resort, but a move it simply could no longer avoid making.
"This organization has taken great care to try and reduce expenses in every other area except jobs first," said Blue Cross Blue Shield's Michelle Riddell.
Blue Cross says the affected employees will be given severance packages, and the earliest any of them will leave their jobs is October 2nd.
Tulsa is not the only area affected by cuts. The company also eliminated a number of jobs in Illinois on Wednesday.