Daniel J. Hilferty, president and chief executive officer of Independence Blue Cross, will become board chairman of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of America.

The Association is a group of 36 Blue Cross and Blue Shield member companies, including Independence Blue Cross, around the nation.

Hilferty will retain his position as Independence Blue Cross' leader. He became the chief executive in 2010 after heading Independence's Medicaid business.

"Dan's proven record as a champion of innovation and his strategic vision for the future of health care are assets not only for Independence Blue Cross members, but for the Blues nationwide," said Scott P. Serota, president and chief executive officer of the Association in a statement.

Hilferty's term begins immediately and expires next November.

Collectively, the Chicago-based Association's member companies provide insurance for nearly 105 million people, or about a third of the nation.

More than 95 percent of the nation's hospitals accept Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance, along with 92 percent of the nation's doctors.

Hilferty has already held leadership positions in the industry. He chaired the Association's Health Policy and Advocacy Committee and serves on the executive committee of the board of directors of America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group.

Independence Blue Cross covers 10 million people in 24 states and the District of Columbia, including 2.5 million people in the region, the health insurers' web site said.