Bruce Bodaken

Bruce Bodaken is planning to turn over the reins at Blue Shield of California to another executive.

Bodaken — a former philosophy teacher who has been chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) and California Blue Shield, San Francisco, since January 2000 — is also the company’s president. He will be giving up the title of president in June and the CEO title in December, the company says.

Paul Markovich, the chief operating officer (COO), will become president in June and CEO in January 2013, the company says.

The company is not saying whether Markovich will be its next chairman.

California Blue Shield is a nonprofit rival of Blue Cross of California, which is now a unit of WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis (NYSE:WLP).

The company has 4,800 employees. It generated $9.7 billion in revenue in 2011 by providing or administering medical coverage for 3.3 million people.

While at California Blue Shield, Bodaken has set himself apart from many other health insurance company CEOs by supporting state and federal efforts to reform the health finance system.

Bodaken proposed a plan similar to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) in 2002, and California Blue Shield agreed to submit rate increase announcements to independent actuarial reviews in 2011.

Under his watch, the company also has agreed to cap net income at 2% of revenue.  

To make good on the 2% net income cap pledge, the company paid out $475 million in voluntary rebates in 2011, the company says.

Bodaken earned a graduate degree from the University of Colorado. He worked at a for-profit California managed care company before becoming the COO of California Blue Shield in 1994. He is a member of the boards of America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago.

Markovich, 45, has a bachelor’s degree from Colorado College. He was a Rhodes Scholar.

He started out as a management consultant, worked for California Blue Shield for several years, then left to work with several startups. He came back to California Blue Shield to run the unit that handles the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) in 2002. He took over the large group business unit in 2005 and became the COO in 2009. He’s a member of the board of the California Association of Health Plans, Sacramento, Calif.

“We are very fortunate to have someone of Paul’s caliber and ethic to ultimately assume the reins of Blue Shield,” Bodaken says in a statement about the transition. “I will continue to be active in carrying out my role as chairman and CEO. I look forward to leading Blue Shield and to achieving even more for customers and employees in my remaining time. However, starting today, Paul and I will work in transitioning our roles smoothly over the next seven months.”