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CEO of new Tufts-Harvard Pilgrim health insurer to retire

Tom Croswell Croswell joined Tufts in 2007 and was CEO for five years before the merger.
Tom Croswell Croswell joined Tufts in 2007 and was CEO for five years before the merger.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/David L Ryan, Globe Staff

Tom Croswell, the chief executive of Massachusetts’s big new health insurer, will retire this summer.

Croswell, 71, will depart just months after spearheading the merger of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. The two companies officially combined Jan. 1 and have not yet announced a new name.

Croswell joined Tufts in 2007 and was CEO for five years before the merger. He has spent five decades working in health care.

In an interview, Croswell said he’s been contemplating retirement for some time. He said he’s not worried about leaving when Tufts and Harvard Pilgrim have much work ahead to carry out the goals of the merger.

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“We’ve done a ton of work already in planning to bring all of this together,” he said.

“I’m really thrilled we were able to put together these two companies. That’s a nice capstone on a great career that I’ve enjoyed very much,” he added.

Company officials said they will name a new CEO in the coming months after conducting a search. Michael Carson, who previously ran Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, is president of the combined company.

Croswell’s career has spanned sweeping changes in the health care industry, including the ever-rising costs of medical care and growing pressure to control those costs.

The role of health insurers has also expanded, and the lines between insurance companies and health care providers have blurred, with insurers in some cases providing care and hospitals more focused on managing costs.

When Croswell began his career, “the words managed care had not been invented,” he said. “It’s fascinating for me to see how the industry has evolved.”

Before coming to Massachusetts, Croswell held roles at other insurance companies, including Prudential and Cigna.

He said he was proud of his work on diversity and inclusion at Tufts, which included setting goals to diversify the insurer’s membership.

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Most recently, he oversaw the combination of Tufts and Harvard Pilgrim, which state and federal regulators approved late last year. Company officials say the deal will save more than $100 million a year and have committed to using the savings to offset premiums and out-of-pocket costs for members. They are not planning any immediate changes to benefit plans.

The state Health Policy Commission plans to monitor the merger’s impact on health care costs for consumers.

The combined organization is the state’s second-largest nonprofit health insurer after Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Andrew Dreyfus, chief executive of Blue Cross, called Croswell an even-keeled leader who is committed to the community.

“It’s never about him. He doesn’t try to call attention to himself,” Dreyfus said. “He’s a strong collaborator.”

As for the merger of two of his rivals: “We welcome the competition,” he said.

Peter Markell, chief financial officer at the Mass General Brigham hospital system, who sits across the table from insurers negotiating how much hospitals should be paid, called Croswell “a true professional and a straight shooter” who acts in the best interest of the health care system as a whole.

Croswell is chairman of the board of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, which lobbies on behalf of insurers. Lora Pellegrini, president of the association, credited his work on health care costs as well as inequities in health care.


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.