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Blues exec pay and bonuses could be target of North Dakota investigation

FARGO - North Dakota's insurance commissioner today is considering a "targeted examination" of executive pay and bonuses and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

Adam Hamm said he wants to know more about the health insurer's administrative expenses following reports of a sales reward trip to the Grand Cayman Islands, which could cost up to $227,500, and executive compensation.

The North Dakota Blues just filed executive pay figures with state regulators showing CEO Mike Unhjem received total compensation, including salary and bonus, totaling $664,431 in 2008.

The year before, Unhjem's total compensation was $523,769, an increase of $140,662, or almost 27 percent.

Hamm said the trip expenses and executive pay increases come at a time of a national financial crisis and when the Blues are seeking premium increases of 15 to 20 percent and experienced a loss last year of $28 million.

"The policy holder looks at that and can't rationally understand that," Hamm said. "It just does not compute."

Hamm said he wants to get a "complete picture" of the Blues' administrative expenses.

Meanwhile, the company's board of directors met this morning and is expected to issue a statement today.