UnitedHealth's Hemsley to leave CEO post


[Editor's note: This story has been edited to clarify Hemsley's new role.]

One of the nation's largest health insurers, UnitedHealth Group, which has a major presence in downtown Hartford, announced Tuesday that its top executive Stephen J. Hemsley is leaving his CEO post.

Hemsley will be replaced by David S. Wichmann, who is president of UnitedHealth Group, and has been groomed for the top job for years, the company said. At the same time, Hemsley will remain at the company in a new role as executive chairman of the board of directors.

The leadership change at the Minnetonka, Minn.-based health insurer takes effect Sept. 1. Current board chairman Richard Burke will become lead independent director.

Wichmann, 54, joined the company in 1998. He served as chief financial officer from 2011 until mid-2016, and has been president of UnitedHealth Group and overseen UnitedHealthcare, the company's benefits business, since 2014.

Wichmann also leads the company's activities in Brazil, among other global markets.

"Today's action is the culmination of almost four years of discussion, careful planning, leadership development and execution," Burke said in a statement. "Dave Wichmann was one of Steve Hemsley's first hires at our company and has been preparing for the CEO role for many years."

Hemsley, 65, joined the company in 1997 and has been CEO since late 2006. He welcomed the successor he's been grooming to his new role as "the right person" to lead the company through the evolving landscape of healthcare.

"Dave has the business and leadership skills, enterprise knowledge and support, broad healthcare experience, and deep expertise in areas that are critical to our future – especially growth-oriented technology, operations and global markets," Hemsley said in a statement.