Deborah Rice-Johnson


April 15, 2019

Highmark Inc.

Deb Rice-Johnson is an innovative health insurance leader, driven by a passion for reinventing health care experiences and pioneering provider relationships designed to keep care close to home and change antiquated reimbursement methods. Through diverse and inventive relationships ranging from joint ventures to equity interest partnerships, she has spearheaded affiliations and clinical alliances with Penn State Health, Geisinger Health System and many regionally-based health care providers.

As president of Highmark Inc., she is responsible for providing senior leadership and strategic direction for the company’s health insurance business, serving 5.3 million customers and managing more than $15 billion in revenue. Additionally, she has accountability for product development, provider networks and reimbursement, clinical services, sales and operations. Ms. Rice-Johnson is also responsible for Highmark’s insurance-based subsidiaries: United Concordia Dental, the sixth largest dental plan nationally that serves the largest voluntary dental program in the world with TRICARE, and HM Insurance Group, a national carrier with annual revenues of more than $1 billion.

Ms. Rice-Johnson has more than 30 years of experience in the health insurance industry. She has held a variety of management positions at Highmark and its predecessor company. Her leadership has not only redefined the payer-provider relationship and yielded unparalleled financial performance, but she has also delivered innovative clinical solutions that aim to improve health outcomes for Highmark’s members. She is also keenly focused and committed to positively impacting the employment situation of our nation’s military veterans through championing private-sector hiring efforts.

Ms. Rice-Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Carlow University. In 2014 she was named a Carlow Laureate, the university’s most prestigious alumni award recognizing those whose work, thought, and action demonstrate the highest standards of professional accomplishment and leadership.

Current Board Affiliations:

  • Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation
  • The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania
  • Carlow University
  • Duquesne club
  • Blue Health Intelligence
  • Whitaker Center
  • Epilepsy Association of Western and Central PA, Chairman
  • Variety the Children’s Charity, President

Thought Leadership Topics:

Creating community-based networks of care

  • Developing a continuum of provider partnerships, clinical joint ventures, and integrations that bring primary and specialty care closer to where people work and live. These efforts include Highmark’s ongoing investments in Allegheny Health Network and partnerships with Penn State Health and Geisinger.

Forging innovative payer-provider partnerships

  • Collaborating with providers to align financial incentives and identify ways to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction. This includes Highmark’s signature True Performance program, which rewards primary care physicians for delivering high-value care. More than 1,500 primary care practices, covering more than 1.8 million members, participate in True Performance across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware. Highmark’s claims data for 2017 and 2018 shows that the program has helped to avoid a total of more than $610 million in health care costs.

 Improving health care affordability

  • Combatting the rising cost of prescription drugs through value-based agreements that hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for clinical and cost effectiveness.
  • Ensuring our members and patients receive evidence-based, high-quality care in the most cost-effective and convenient care settings.
  • Partnering with employers to create products that meet the particular needs of their employees and businesses.

Creating a remarkable health experience

  • Investing in technology, care navigation tools and other resources that make it easier for our members and patients to manage their health and access the right care at the right time.

 Helping veterans reach their full potential

  • Applying veterans’ unique skills, experiences and commitment to teamwork to new employment opportunities at Highmark and in all of the communities that we serve


WHTM-TV (CBS, Harrisburg, Pa.), September 2019: Highmark, Penn State fitness challenge encourages healthy lifestyle choices

We think that this is the best way to improve health, to have people every day thinking about their health and wellness, as opposed to only when they’re sick or only when they’re going for their routine physical.          

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 2019: In year 2 of ‘war on opioids,’ Highmark touts lower prescribing, takes on stigma

We don’t want it to be seen as a moral issue. We want it to be seen as a chronic condition, because that’s what it is.

 Pittsburgh Business Times, April 2019: Outstanding top executives award winner: Deborah Rice-Johnson, Highmark Inc.

 Pittsburgh Business Times, March 2019: Highmark, Geisinger complete clinical joint venture

We always strive to work with forward-thinking provider partners who have a shared vision to improve health care and create positive experiences for members and patients.

Penn State News, March 2019: Penn State Health breaks ground on third adult acute care hospital

 About Highmark Inc.

One of America’s leading health insurance organizations and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Highmark Inc. (the Health Plan) and its affiliated health plans (collectively, the Health Plans) work passionately to deliver high-quality, accessible, understandable, and affordable experiences, outcomes, and solutions to customers. As the fourth-largest overall Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization, Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates proudly cover the insurance needs of 4.5 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance and other related businesses. For more information, visit

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