Which C-suite payer leaders are being appointed CEO?

In the small talent pool for health insurance leaders, payers often appoint CEOs who were previously with another insurer or healthcare company.

Becker's sorted internal CEO promotions and external hires by the appointee's most recent C-suite role within health insurance. Market presidents and COOs advanced to the top spot most often, followed by CFOs and vice presidents.

Editor's note: This is not an exhaustive list of CEO moves, and only accounts for appointments within major health insurance organizations since January 2022. For a similar list on health system CEOs, click here.

Market president — 4

Blue Cross of Idaho promoted its president of health markets, Paul Zurlo, to president and CEO, effective in 2024.

Anthem BCBS Virginia named Monica Schmude as president after she previously served as  president of Cigna's mid-Atlantic commercial market.

Friday Health Plans named Beth Bierbower as CEO after serving as president of Humana's group and specialty benefits segment.

BCBS Illinois named Stephen Harris as president after he previously served as Medicaid president at parent company Health Care Service Corp.

Chief operating officer — 4

SelectHealth, the insurance arm of Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health, named Rob Hitchcock as president and CEO. Previously, he served as COO at Elevance Health's health services division, Carelon. 

BCBS Massachusetts named Sarah Iselin as CEO after she served as EVP and COO at Blue Shield of California.

Health Alliance Medical Plans, the insurance arm of Urbana, Ill.-based Carle Health, promoted its COO, Sinead Rice Madigan, to president and CEO.

BCBS South Carolina promoted its COO, Michael Mizeur, to CEO.

Chief financial officer — 3

Aetna named Brian Kane as executive vice president and president, effective September 1. He served as CFO at Humana until 2021, overseeing its primary care businesses. 

Medical Mutual of Ohio named Steven Glass as president and CEO after he had served as CFO of Cleveland Clinic since 2005.

Magellan Health promoted its CFO Derrick Duke to CEO.

Vice president — 3

Sentara Health Plans, the insurance division of Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare, promoted SVP of comprehensive health solutions, Colin Drozdowski, to president.

BCBS Oklahoma promoted its VP of Oklahoma plan operations, Stephania Grober, to president.

Anthem BCBS New Hampshire promoted its regional VP of sales, Maria Proulx, to president.

Chief executive officer — 2

BCBS Nebraska named Jeff Russell as president and CEO, effective June 26. He had been CEO of dental insurer Delta Dental of Iowa since 2013. 

Oscar named Mark Bertolini as the company's next CEO after serving as CEO of Aetna from 2010 to 2018.

General Counsel — 1

ConnectiCare, a subsidiary of EmblemHealth, promoted its General Counsel Mark Meador to president.

Chief strategy officer — 1

PacificSource Health Plans named John Espinola, MD, as president and CEO. He was previously EVP and chief strategy and product officer at Premera Blue Cross.

Chief management officer — 1

WPS Health Solutions promoted its chief management officer, Wendy Perkins, to president and CEO.

Chief transformation officer — 1

Hometown Health, the insurance arm of Reno, Nev.-based Renown Health, promoted its chief transformation officer, Bethany Sexton, to CEO.


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