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Two Big Health Insurance Distributors Announce CEO Changes

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What You Need to Know

  • Peter Lee, the head of Covered California, repeatedly said that strong support for agents helps hold down the cost of health coverage.
  • Scott Flanders has been leading a company that's one of the online insurance sales pioneers.
  • The new eHealth CEO spent years at CareFirst and Aetna.

Two of the biggest web-based health insurance supermarkets in the United States will be getting new CEOs.

Covered California

Covered California, the organization that runs the Affordable Care Act public health insurance exchange in California, says Peter Lee will be leaving the organization in early 2022, after the end of the open enrollment period for individual major medical insurance that takes effect in 2022.

Lee has been serving as Covered California’s executive director for 10 years and helped oversee its launch.

Lee started out as a program director for the National AIDS Network. He later worked as a lawyer for two years before becoming executive director of the Center for Health Care Rights in Los Angeles, and then CEO at the Pacific Business Group on Health. In addition, he spent two years in Washington at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Despite his roots outside of commercial health insurance, Lee focused on agent and broker relationships from the beginning. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of providing strong marketing support and compensation for producers.

Lee said strong marketing and producer support helps consumers, by encouraging younger, healthy people to buy coverage and by holding down the average amount of claims per enrollee.

Covered California now helps 1.6 million people in California use health coverage from private health insurers, and has helped cut the percentage of California residents who are uninsured to 7.7%, from 17% in 2013.

Lee has not said what he plans to do next. Covered California said it will conduct a national search to find the next executive director.

EHealth

EHealth — a 24-year-old web-based health insurance broker that was one of the pioneers in efforts to sell health insurance online — says Scott Flanders will be leaving the CEO post Nov. 1 and leaving the company at the end of the year.

Flanders has been eHealth’s CEO since 2016.

Fran Soistman, a former Aetna executive, will become the new CEO, eHealth says.

Before joining Aetna, Soistman spent 13 years at CareFirst, a large, Maryland-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield carrier. When he left, he was vice president of broker sales. He also has been a regional vice president at Principal Financial and president of HealthAmerica, a health insurer owned by Coventry. Coventry was later acquired by Aetna. He spent a total of 21 years at HealthAmerica, Coventry and Aetna.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Towson University and is the chairman of the Towson board of visitors.

He is also a member of the board of the University System of Maryland’s foundation and a member of a scientific advisory board for the Department of Health Policy at Harvard’s medical school.

Peter Lee (Photo: Covered California)