In the early 1990s as Rick Moore delivered resumes and applied for jobs throughout Chattanooga during an economic recession, he noticed a peculiarity during lunchtime hours.
“I would see these people walking by up and down the street – guys in their white shirts with little badges, and ladies walking with their tennis shoes on with their dresses,” he says. “And I remember thinking, ‘These people look very happy.’”
He later learned they all worked at BlueCross. When an acquaintance – a longtime BlueCross employee – suggested Rick apply for a position there, he jumped at it.
Now, 27 years later, Rick has risen through the BlueCross ranks to become director of service operations for BlueCare. And like those employees he saw on the street all those years ago, he, too, is happy to be there.
Rick’s road to BlueCross took a winding path. While attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, he worked in a paper mill. After graduation, he worked in a hosiery mill before moving into retail and working near Pensacola, Fla., and later in New Orleans.
“It was tough finding long-term career jobs in the 1980s,” Rick says.
So as a new decade began, he decided it was time to come home to Chattanooga. It was then that he joined BlueCross.
Building a new health care program
Rick began his BlueCross career as a supervisor in the new BlueCare division, where his 39-member team served low-income Tennesseans who depend on TennCare for insurance. TennCare is the state of Tennessee’s Medicaid program and provides healthcare to those with a low income or significant disabilities.
But it was a membership he looked forward to serving. Part of our job was to educate BlueCare members on why it was important for them to use all their benefits.
“If you’re a single working parent and your child’s not sick, it’s a real sacrifice to take off work for your child’s wellness visit,” he says.
But it was his and his colleagues’ job to help members understand why such sacrifices should be made. “A manager once told me, ‘They’re not called customer service counselors for nothing; they have to counsel members,’ and he was right about that,” Rick explains.
Working with some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable residents was, and is, meaningful for Rick, particularly because he’s lived it.
“I have a son who’s disabled. He’s an adult now, but back when he was having hospital stays and having to go to the emergency room, he was on TennCare,” Rick explains. “I wasn’t on the program, but if he had not been, I would be bankrupt. I couldn’t pay thousands of dollars a month for the medication he needed at that time, but I was going to make sure he got that medication.”Helping other Tennessee families who faced the same kind of challenges was important to Rick.
“We were building something,” he recalls. “Every day, I rolled up my sleeves and was able to actually make a difference.”
Being part of progress
Rick’s career progressed as he moved to customer service, facilities coordinator/ workgroup administrator, operations manager and, as of 2014, director of service operations, where he is responsible for customer service and claims processing for BlueCare’s nearly 600,000 members.
With each step, he’s seen, and been part of, progress within the company. The claims process, for example, has advanced tremendously with automation now handling the most routine tasks, freeing employees to focus on more high-impact, valuable tasks.
“Automation made a huge difference,” he says, “and I’m proud to have had a role in that.”
Such advances in technology have resulted in better accuracy and faster results for members, providers and BlueCross. For example, 99 percent of claims are paid accurately and health care providers receive their payment within an average of 12 days.
“I look at the provider as a partner,” Rick says. “If I keep him or her happy and well served, they’re going to take care of our members and our members are going to be happy and healthy.”
The people are the reward
Rick counts the company’s reputation and opportunities for advancement as reasons for staying with BlueCross for 27 years.
“More importantly, it’s the people here,” he says. “The team I work with, the people who report to me, I’ve worked with those same individuals most of my career, and some for my entire career.”
“So, it’s more than just a working relationship; I consider those people my friends.”
A mission that matters — and makes a difference
Rick counts BlueCare’s long association with TennCare is a perfect example of BlueCross’ mission of “Peace of mind through better health” because it allows Tennessee’s most vulnerable populations access to the care they need.
“BlueCare is the only one of the original companies still serving TennCare,” Rick says. “There were probably business reasons to walk away over the years, but we’re still here serving those people who need us. Every day I see the importance of TennCare and who it helps.”
“If you’re blessed and you recognize that you’re blessed,” he says, “there’s an unselfish willingness to try to give back.”