Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING Mike Reitz, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, is retiring in mid-2016.

Mike Reitz, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, plans to retire in mid-2016 after 40 years with the state’s largest insurer.

The company’s board will conduct a nationwide search for Reitz’s successor, said Blue Cross board Chairman Dan S. Borné.

“For all things, there is a season, and my time is passing,” Reitz said. “I feel I have contributed to the success of the company over the past years by working with my colleagues to serve our customers — to provide the people who put their trust in us with the unsurpassed value they deserve. It gives me great satisfaction to have built this solid foundation.”

“As a collaborative and passionate leader, Mike Reitz leaves his distinctive mark on not just Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, but on the evolving health care system in our state and on the citizens of Louisiana,” Borné said. “And because he has always been a nurturing steward of this company, he will be leaving it in a position of extraordinary strength.”

Blue Cross had $1.35 billion in group premiums written, or 39 percent of the Louisiana market in 2013, according to the most recent figures from the state Department of Insurance. Blue Cross’ book of business was three times the size of its nearest competitor, UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co.

Borné added that Reitz experienced success as a leader because of his “compassionate desire to deliver ‘unsurpassed value’ to our customers.”

Reitz’s tenure with Blue Cross included two stints as interim president and CEO. Reitz took over in February 2004 when then-CEO Kathryn Sullivan abruptly resigned. Reitz, whose father, Howard, served as Blue Cross president from 1966 to 1983, held the post until late October 2004. Gery J. Barry then became CEO. When he left four years later for the chief strategy officer slot at Aetna Inc., the Blue Cross board again turned to Reitz. He served as interim president and CEO until April 2009, when the company removed the interim tag following a national search.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said consumers won’t be affected by a new CEO.

The company was very efficient, profitable and extremely well-run under Reitz, Donelon said. He expects a smooth transition in leadership.

During his administration, Reitz initiated a collaborative effort to reshape the state’s private health care system into one that is affordable, rewards quality care and is easy for all consumers to navigate, the company’s press release said. He enlisted the help of hospitals, physicians, employers and consumers to set the transformation into motion.

“Blue Cross is partnering with providers on innovative health care programs that directly tie their payments to quality improvements that get better results for their patients,” Reitz said. “This shift from ‘fee-for-service’ to ‘fee-for-quality’ will impact costs, because when patients get healthier, costs go down,” Reitz said. “In addition to rewarding value-based care, we’re using claims data in exciting new ways; we’re building reports for providers so they can see how they compare to peers on cost and quality,” he said. “And we’re partnering with them to develop innovative, high-performing networks that give customers unsurpassed quality at reduced premiums.

“I look forward now, as I cross the finish line of my race, to passing the baton to a successor who will have an equal or greater passion for serving our customers first, and who will move our company to an even higher level,” Reitz said.