Jim Eppel, a longtime insurance industry executive in the Twin Cities, has been named the next chief executive at Minneapolis-based UCare.

Eppel will replace Nancy Feldman, who is retiring this summer after 20 years as CEO. UCare has the fourth-largest number of health plan enrollees in Minnesota.

Eppel currently is senior vice president of OptumInsight, which is a division of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group. Previously, he held executive positions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Allina Health System and Medica.

“Jim has a wealth of experience with both health plans and providers, and is extremely well regarded throughout the community,” Dr. Macaran Baird, chair of UCare’s board of directors, said in a statement.

UCare primarily provides health insurance to people with coverage through the Medicare, Medicaid and MinnesotaCare public health insurance programs. With the launch last year of the MNsure health insurance exchange, UCare started offering policies to individuals who buy non-group coverage.

After winning just 1.5 percent of the MNsure market in 2014, UCare has seen its share grow to about 20 percent this year.

In early 2014, Eppel presented a key report from Optum to the MNsure board of directors about problems with the health exchange’s IT system.

For the fiscal year that ended in 2013, UCare ranked as the state’s seventh-largest nonprofit group, according to a Star Tribune annual report on the sector. That year, the insurer reported about $2.4 billion in revenue, according to an IRS filing, and revenue exceeded expenses by about $47 million.


Twitter: @chrissnowbeck