Herbert leaves exchange board to consult for insurer

Former ConnectiCare CEO Mickey Herbert has resigned from the board overseeing the state’s health insurance exchange to take a job consulting for the insurer Harvard Pilgrim Health Care as it attempts to enter the state’s market.

Herbert was one of three former insurance executives serving on the board of the exchange, the marketplace that will be available for people to buy health insurance as part of federal health reform. Their appointments drew criticism from patient advocates, who said the insurance industry was overrepresented on the board while consumers did not have a voice. Herbert has argued that it was critical to have people with knowledge of the insurance industry involved in creating the new insurance marketplace.

Herbert said Monday that he got opinions from the exchange’s lawyers and from the Office of State Ethics before accepting the consulting role with Harvard Pilgrim.

“I made darned sure I wasn’t violating any code of ethics or state ethics rule,” he said. He resigned from the board in late November and began working for Harvard Pilgrim in December.

Harvard Pilgrim is a nonprofit health insurer based in Massachusetts. It’s made an initial filing with the Connecticut Insurance Department to begin the process of offering insurance in the state. The company also has members in New Hampshire and Maine.

Herbert’s career has included founding and running Physicians Health Services, and serving as executive vice president of EmblemHealth, a New York insurer. Before becoming CEO of ConnectiCare, he owned the Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball team.