- UnitedHealth Group has named longtime executive Brian Thompson as the new chief executive officer of its health benefits business, UnitedHealthcare, the biggest private payer in the U.S.
- Thompson, who joined UnitedHealth in 2004, was most recently CEO of UnitedHealthcare's government business, including its Medicare, retirement and community and state divisions.
- It's a major personnel announcement from newly minted UnitedHealth CEO Andrew Witty, who took the reins in February following the retirement of Dave Wichmann. Thompson is replacing Dirk McMahon, who was CEO of UnitedHealthcare since June 2019 and was elevated to UnitedHealth's chief operating officer as part of that leadership shakeup.
UnitedHealthcare is a major business of UnitedHealth, contributing $200 billion of the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based healthcare behemoth's $257 billion in revenue last year. The payer has a large commercial unit along with its government Medicaid and Medicare business, covering more than 43 million members in the U.S.
The unit has expanded steadily over the past few years, especially in growth areas like Medicaid and privately run Medicare Advantage plans, two lucrative markets as people lose employer-sponsored insurance due to the pandemic's economic fallout.
UnitedHealthcare dominated MA enrollment for 2021, outpacing rivals Aetna and Humana in membership, snatching more than 36% of net-new enrollees with the greatest growth among for-profit health plans, according to a March report from the Chartis Group.
Still, Thompson takes the helm at a contentious time in the payer's provider relationships. UnitedHealthcare is being sued in two states by a large group of anesthesiologists alleging it suppresses competition by forcing physicians out of its network through pressure campaigns, bribes and more. UnitedHealthcare has denied all the allegations.
Also, federal antitrust regulators are taking a deeper look into UnitedHealth's proposed $13 billion acquisition of data analytics company Change Healthcare, following concerns from a major hospital lobby the marriage could give UnitedHealthcare an unfair leg up in negotiations with providers.