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February 4, 2021

In another shakeup, UnitedHealth elevates Optum leader to CEO

Photo | Wikimedia Commons Sir Andrew Witty, new CEO of UnitedHealth Group.

Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group, which has significant operations in downtown Hartford and more than 6,000 employees across Connecticut, has shaken up its C-suite for the second time in less than three years.

On Thursday, UnitedHealth Group announced that it has promoted Sir Andrew Witty to CEO of the company, whose holdings include UnitedHealthcare, Optum and Trumbull-based Oxford Health Plans. 

Witty, who was CEO of drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline from 2008 to 2017, was named CEO of UnitedHealth’s Optum pharmacy benefit unit in 2018 and president of UnitedHealth Group the following year.

Witty, a former chancellor of the University of Nottingham who was knighted in 2012 for his service to the U.K. economy, takes over the health insurer’s top job from David Wichmann, who plans to retire following a transition period that runs through March. Wichmann, who first joined UnitedHealth in 1998, has been CEO since 2017.

Meanwhile, the company announced that Dirk McMahon, CEO of UnitedHealthcare since 2019, will become president and chief operating officer of the parent corporation. Witty, McMahon and existing Chief Financial Officer John Rex now constitute the company’s chief executive team.

UnitedHealth Group had more than 131,000 plan members in Connecticut as of the end of 2019, according to the Connecticut Insurance Department. UnitedHealth hasn’t limited itself to just underwriting and administering health plans, though. 

In 2015, the company’s Optum unit acquired Farmington-based ProHealth Physicians, which employs several hundred doctors.

UnitedHealth Group has spent billions acquiring various medical practices in multiple states in recent years, with major examples including Colorado-based dialysis chain DaVita and Illinois-based Surgical Care Affiliates.

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