The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.

Stephen L. Ondra, M.D.

Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Health Care Service Corporation

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Stephen Ondra

Areas of Expertise

  • Healthcare transformation
  • Payment models
  • Medical Management


  • Walter Reed Army Medical Center
  • Rush Medical College
  • Illinois Wesleyan University


Since his early career as a military surgeon, Dr. Stephen L. Ondra has been on a mission to improve health care in the United States. As senior vice president and chief medical officer at Health Care Service Corporation he is responsible for the strategy and oversight of medical policies, medical management, pharmacy, quality improvement and performance measurement programs. He manages a medical policy and clinical operations division comprised of nearly 2,000 employees including doctors, nurses, other clinicians, and medical policy experts in improving health outcomes for more than 14 million policyholders.

Ondra also serves as a key national spokesperson for the nation's largest non-investor-owned health insurance company and fourth largest insurer overall, which operates as Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Ondra is widely respected for his expertise and achievements in medicine, medical policy, health information technology and innovation. He is considered one of the country’s leading subject matter experts on healthcare reform. His keen understanding of healthcare policy and complex healthcare delivery systems has made him a frequent source of counsel for many of this country’s most influential CEOs, health care executives and policymakers across government in the United States and internationally.

Before joining the company, Ondra served as senior vice president and chief medical officer at northwestern memorial hospital. Previously, he was appointed by President Obama as the senior policy advisor for health affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He also served at the White House in the Executive Office of the President as co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council for Health Information Technology. During his tenure at the White House, he also served on the deputy group for Affordable Care Act implementation and also on the Federal Health Information Technology Policy and Standards Committees.

Recipient of several, prestigious awards for his leadership in the healthcare industry, Ondra also holds the distinction of being visiting professor at the University of Miami, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), University of Southern California, University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Texas and Northwestern University. He is a noted author of many scholarly publications and has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Spinal Disorders and the Journal of Spinal Techniques and Disorders.

Ondra was recently appointed adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Society, an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. He also serves on the board for TriWest Healthcare Alliance and has chaired the scientific advisory boards for the Defense Spinal Cord/Column Injury and the Spine Blast Injury for the Department of Defense. He is affiliated with several professional organizations including the Scoliosis Research Society, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, Association of Military Surgeons, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, North American Spine Society, and the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He was also a professor of Neurosurgery and Residency Program Director at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. At Northwestern, he also served as the interim chair of Neurological Surgery.

As a veteran of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, Ondra was awarded a Bronze Star Medal and the Army Commendation Medal for his extraordinary service. After attending the U.S. Military Academy, he completed pre-medical studies at Illinois Wesleyan University, medical school at Rush Medical College in Chicago, and graduate medical education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He is board-certified in neurological surgery and holds an Illinois medical license.