Prudential HealthCare said yesterday that it was eliminating 120 jobs at its Baltimore office as part of a move to consolidate billing, claims processing and member services into four national service centers.
By mid-May, those functions will move from Baltimore to Prudential's center in Jacksonville, Fla. About 400 jobs will remain in Baltimore, which is the headquarters of Prudential HealthCare of the Mid-Atlantic, serving nearly 300,000 managed-care members in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia.
The remaining Baltimore positions are in such areas as medical management, provider relations and sales.
Some of the 120 employees can relocate to Jacksonville, while others may move into openings in Baltimore, said Elizabeth J. Misek, chief executive officer of Prudential Mid-Atlantic.
Those not placed in other jobs will be eligible for at least 60 days' pay and continuation of health insurance coverage, Prudential said.
Kevin Heine, a spokesman at Prudential's corporate headquarters in Newark, N.J., said Baltimore was the fifth of 42 regional offices, employing about 8,000 people, to be consolidated into the national centers. Besides Jacksonville, Heine said, another center will be in Houston; the two other locations have not yet been announced. The entire process will be completed by the middle of next year, he said.
Heine said the centralization was to provide "timely, accurate and cost-effective" service taking advantage of the latest technology. With the 42 offices performing the functions, he said, there has been "a great deal of variation in terms of function and service levels."
He said, "It's not clear at the end of the process whether there will be more or less employees."
Prudential had moved its mid-Atlantic headquarters from Bethesda to the former Seton Catholic High School at 2800 N. Charles St. in 1991, when it acquired Johns Hopkins Health System's HMO.
Since 1995, it has also been leasing space in the Mariner Building, formerly North Charles General Hospital, at 2700 N. Charles. Misek said Prudential would occupy a smaller amount of space in the Mariner Building and would continue to fill the Seton building.
Customers currently served in Baltimore will, after May, have a toll-free number to call in Jacksonville, where there will be staff dedicated to mid-Atlantic customers, she added.
Prudential HealthCare has one other office in Maryland, in Lanham, with about 80 employees, according to Misek. She said the Lanham facility would not be affected by the changes.
CEO Misek said she expected employment to grow again in Baltimore; Prudential recently launched a Medicare HMO and is planning to offer Medicare HMOs in Maryland and the District of Columbia.