Kapustay brings experience to new Milwaukee job

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:27 pm

Kapustay brings experience to new Milwaukee job

By Andrew Weiland, of SBT

Like consumers who may need a scorecard to keep track of the corporate changes involving the Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin plan, Rebecca Kapustay is looking for some stability.
Kapustay has been extremely busy during her first few weeks on the job as president and chief executive officer of Cobalt Corp., the former parent company of the Wisconsin Blue plan.
Kapustay was named to the post in early October, just after Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based WellPoint Health Networks Inc. completed its purchase of Milwaukee-based Cobalt for $906 million. Former Cobalt Corp. president Michael Berstein stepped down to pursue other opportunities.
Less than a month later, Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. announced it will purchase WellPoint for about $16.4 million in cash and stock. The merged company will be called WellPoint Inc. and be headquartered in Indianapolis.
The Anthem-WellPoint merger should not have a major impact on the operations of Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, Kapustay said, because the two corporations’ service territories do not overlap here.
"This really will not impact the health plan," she said. "Anthem does not operate in (Wisconsin). WellPoint does. The biggest impact to our company will be in the corporate area."
Kapustay oversees about 3,250 employees, including about 2,600 who work in Wisconsin. Those employees are still working to integrate Cobalt’s human resources and payroll systems into the WellPoint systems.
"It’s been very hectic," Kapustay said.
When WellPoint announced its plan in June to purchase Cobalt, company executives said local employment levels would change little. WellPoint executives also said Milwaukee would be the headquarters for the company’s Medicare Part A claim processing.
Now, even after the announcement of WellPoint’s merger with Anthem, those plans essentially remain the same, Kapustay said. Most of the current employees will still be needed to administer health care services on the local level, she said. Also, Milwaukee will be the Medicare Part A claim processing headquarters for the combined company, she said.
The Cobalt Corp. name will be phased out during the next few months, Kapustay said. The Blue Cross & Blue Shield brand name will still be used.
Just as the company is in transition, so are Kapustay and her husband, David Ludwig, who have moved from the Los Angeles area to a loft apartment in downtown Milwaukee. From there, she walks to work at the Cobalt Corp. building at 401 W. Michigan St.
"It’s a beautiful city," Kapustay said. "The riverwalk, the museums and you can take the train to Chicago."
Kapustay said they prefer the urban lifestyle. "We’re at an age that we’re not into taking care of a yard," she said.
Kapustay is no stranger to Wisconsin. Her husband grew up on a dairy farm in Medford. His parents live in Abbotsford, and he has children and grandchildren who live in Milwaukee.
"I have spent a lot of time in Wisconsin," she said. "Every year, we had a family reunion here in a different place. Sturgeon Bay, Lac du Flambeau, Abbotsford, I’ve seen a lot of the geography. It’s a pretty state."
Kapustay also grew up in a small town, Mountain Top, Pa.
"It was very rural," she said. "The thing I remember about growing up there was you really didn’t have friends because you didn’t have neighbors. I played with my two brothers and two sisters. We had a very close family life.
"We had a big yard and a lot of chores to do. You learn responsibility," she said.
"You learn to get along, because you had to."
Kapustay and her husband met while working together at the WellPoint corporate headquarters in California.
She has worked for WellPoint, and its predecessor, Blue Cross of California, since 1979.
In 2001, she moved to Georgia to work as president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Georgia, after it was acquired by WellPoint. Earlier this year, after two years in Georgia, she moved back to California to work as WellPoint’s executive vice president of central services.
"Becky Kapustay is by far and away one of the most accomplished, versatile and recognized executives in our industry," Wellpoint spokesman Ken Ferber said. "She’s held management positions with responsibilities for virtually every aspect of health insurance and health insurance management. Her emphasis on building service levels, enhancing service levels and achieving customer satisfaction and customer retention is second to none."
The Milwaukee area has more health insurance companies than many other metropolitan areas, Kapustay said.
"This is a very competitive marketplace," she said. "There are a tremendous number of competitors, more than I am used to."
Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin has served the community since 1939. Even though its ownership is changing, that commitment will remain, Kapustay said.
"A Blue Cross Blue Shield brand is a strong brand," she said. "We’ve been here a long time. We have a future in this community."

Rebecca Kapustay
Title: President and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin
Age: 52
Education: BA, political science, University of Pittsburgh, 1972
Home town: Mountain Top, Pa.
Current residence: Downtown Milwaukee
Hobbies: Reading, hiking, skiing, boating
Family: Married to David Ludwig

Nov. 14, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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