November 6, 2017

Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish to retire

Daily Briefing

    Joseph Swedish will step down from his post as CEO of Anthem, the second-largest health insurer in the United States.

    Gail Boudreaux, former CEO of UnitedHealthcare, will succeed Swedish as CEO and president on November 20. According to the Wall Street Journal, Swedish will remain with the company as executive chair until May 2018 and will serve as a senior advisor through May 2020.

    Swedish and his legacy

    Swedish, who has led Anthem as CEO since 2013, came to the insurer as a hospital industry veteran. Previously, he was CEO of Trinity Health, and his career in health care spans more than 40 years, Modern Healthcare reports.

    According to the Journal, Anthem had tapped Swedish to lead the insurer through the launch of the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. Under Swedish, the company's annual revenue increasing from $71 billion in 2013 to $84.9 billion in 2016. So far in 2017, Anthem share price has increased 47%.

    But not all has been smooth sailing: Anthem's planned proposal with Cigna stalled earlier this year because of antitrust concerns, and the two companies are currently suing each other. Anthem is also in litigation with pharmacy-benefit manager Express Scripts

    According to the Journal, one of Swedish's "most visible legacies" was changing the name of the company to Anthem, from WellPoint, in 2014.

    About Boudreaux

    According to the Journal, Boudreaux is considered "a strong operator" with experience overseeing the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plans similar to those Anthem runs. Prior to coming to UnitedHealth in 2008, Boudreaux led Health Care Service Corp., which also oversees BCBS plans.

    In announcing the transition, George Schaefer, Anthem's lead independent director, said the company's board is "confident Gail will draw from her extensive experience to deliver strong operating performance, excellent financial results, and a laser focus on customer experience and shareholder value" (Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 11/6; Livingston, Modern Healthcare, 11/3; Delk, The Hill, 11/4).

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