UnitedHealth Exec Lois Quam profiled in WSJ

Categories: Business
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Monday's Wall Street Journal ran a long and newsworthy profile of Lois Quam, who has recently been elevated to a management position just behind new CEO Stephen Hemsley in the Minnetonka-based, multibillion-dollar health care conglomerate UnitedHealth Group Inc.

WSJ, which had a hand in toppling former UnitedHealth CEO William McGuire by its superb reporting on the company's back-dating of stock options for McGuire, says Quam "will play a key role in an effort to restore shine to the company's public image." Unlike McGuire, Hemsley shuns the limelight and Quam is being encouraged to step into the breach.

Here are some other highlights from the WSJ story, written by Vanessa Fuhrmans and unavailable to even online readers without a paid subscription.

* In addition to overseeing UnitedHealth's senior-care and Medicaid-related HMO businesses, Quam was temporarily put in charge of the company's internal human resources department recently, in an effort to boost morale among UnitedHealth's 55,000 employees.

* Earlier this year, Quam's own UnitedHealth stock options were worth roughly $35 million, but a 22 percent drop in the stock and UnitedHealth's repricing of some options have changed that value.

* Quam has earned a sterling reputation inside the company through a variety of large and skillful actions. She turned a Medicare demonstration project into a $1.5 billion business called Evercare. And because she had brokered a deal to sell supplemental Medicare policies to AARP members back in 1997, Quam persuaded the powerful seniors organization to endorse UnitedHealth's entry into the Medicare Plan D market earlier this year, making the firm far and away the largest supplier of Plan D drugs to seniors. Quam also was a major player in UnitedHealth's $8.1 billion acquisition of PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., and presided over the integration of PacifiCare's senior and Medicare business (the majority of the company) into UnitedHealth.

* Of perhaps greatest interest to Minnesotans, Quam decided against locating a major new component of UnitedHealth at the company headquarters in Minnetonka, which the WSJ referred to as the "obvious choice." Instead, she set up an innovation center to plan for new Medicare and senior-related products and services in southern California, where PacifiCare was headquartered, calling it "the right choice."

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