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Anthem replaces CEO Joe Swedish with UnitedHealth executive

Former UnitedHealthcare CEO Gail K. Boudreaux will take over leadership at the Big 5 insurer on Nov. 20.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Joe Swedish Credit: AnthemJoe Swedish Credit: Anthem

Anthem has announced that former UnitedHealthcare CEO Gail K. Boudreaux has been named the insurer's named CEO and president, replacing Joseph R. Swedish, effective Nov. 20.

The Anthem board of directors made the announcement Monday, but did not elaborate on its decision.

"We are fortunate that, as a result of Joe's leadership, we have a foundation of strong performance that allows us the opportunity to transition to a new chief executive officer," said George A. Schaefer Jr., lead independent director of the Anthem board.

[Also: Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish to address future of healthcare at AHIP]

Swedish will serve as executive chairman of the Anthem board through May 2018 and then will continue as a senior advisor through May 2020, according to a statement.

Boudreaux served as CEO of United Healthcare from 2011 until February 2015. In November 2014 Boudreaux had made the surprise announcement that she would be stepping down, according to Forbes.

As head of the insurance arm of UnitedHealth Group, Boudreaux had responsibility for approximately $120 billion in revenue and  60,000 employees, Anthem said. Under her leadership, membership by more than 8 million members. 

[Also: Anthem establishes its own pharmacy benefits manager]

"Gail is widely recognized as a very successful executive in the healthcare industry," Swedish said. "I am confident that her depth of experience will be of great benefit to our company, our associates and our members. It has been a privilege to lead Anthem and work with our more than 53,000 associates across the nation. As we move ahead, I look forward to working closely with Gail in this new capacity."

During Swedish's tenure, Anthem has exceeded consensus earnings expectations every year, Schaefer said. Anthem membership has grown by four million, or 11 percent, to 40 million and operating revenue has increased 39 percent to over $89 billion. 

"Joe has reinvigorated the company's culture, built a strategic growth platform, and put Anthem on track to realize our vision of being America's valued health partner," Schaefer said. "The entire board would like to express our gratitude to Joe for his invaluable contributions."

[Also: Anthem to build new technology center in Atlanta]

Boudreaux previously served as executive vice president of Health Care Services Corp. with responsibility for Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, and before that, as president of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois. 

"The Anthem 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," Schaefer said. "In an evolving industry, Gail brings the right skills for the times."

Boudreaux also addressed the focus on customer service.

"We are dedicated to connecting our customers to the right resources so that they can realize their healthcare goals while simplifying the healthcare experience for them," she said.

She began her career in Aetna's Management Development Program, serving in a variety of capacities over the course of two decades.  Boudreaux received a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Dartmouth College, and received her MBA in Finance with distinction from Columbia University. She and her husband will be moving to Indianapolis over the next few months, Anthem said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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