NU Online News Service, Jan. 2, 4:39 p.m. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., a nonprofit health insurer, has filed a plan to convert to a for-profit stock company.

A 1998 North Carolina law defines North Carolina Blue as a company that holds its assets in trust for the people of the state.

North Carolina Blue will compensate the people by contributing the full value of its assets to an independent health care foundation, the Health Foundation for North Carolina Inc., before converting, the company says.

The conversion plan is subject to approval by the state insurance commissioner and the state attorney general. The insurance commissioner must hold at least three public hearings on the conversion plan, North Carolina Blue says.

Bob Greczyn, president of North Carolina Blue, put out a statement saying his company wants to convert to increase its flexibility and its access to Wall Street capital.

North Carolina law requires the insurance commissioner to review the conversion plan to ensure that it is fair to customers and that no North Carolina Blue directors, officers or employees will receive a financial reward for the conversion, North Carolina Blue notes.

North Carolina Blue provides major medical coverage for 2.1 million people. It reported $66 million in net income for 2000 on $2.1 billion in revenue.

Anthem Inc., Indianapolis, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield that has five times as many members, five times as much revenue, and five times as much net income has a market capitalization, or total theoretical resale value, of about $5 billion, or about $500 per member, according to Multex.com Inc., New York. At that rate, North Carolina Blue might be have an asset value of about $1 billion, according to National Underwriter computations.