Warwick native heads Minnesota Blue Cross, looks to make consumer more active in health care
When Warwick native Michael J. Guyette talks about health care, he’s likely to bring up your cell phone.
He says a lot can be accomplished with a phone: You can get a list of area restaurants, see what they are offering and compare prices. Or, if you are shopping for a new car, you can enter a make and model number and learn what deals area dealers will make.
But if you tried to use your phone to compare the cost of an MRI or other forms of medical imaging tests, or to compare the cost and services associated with various medical procedures, you couldn’t.
MRI costs can fluctuate from $700 to $2,000, he explained.
Guyette believes those costs should be readily accessible to the consumer and he thinks that is part of the process of engaging people in their own health care. That is one way he sees to breaking the cycle of escalating medical costs that are consistently outpacing inflation.
“Getting this [information] into the hands of the consumer is really going to matter,” Guyette said in an interview Tuesday.
Guyette isn’t all talk, either.
He will get a shot at implementing his ideas in the role he will assume on Jan. 7. On Monday, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s board of trustees announced Guyette’s appointment as president and chief executive officer. He will head a staff of 3,600 and a company with 2.7 million members.
The 48-year-old Guyette grew up on Warwick Pond, attended Randall Holden School and was a member of the Pilgrim High Class of 1982. He got his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of North Texas in Denton. He holds an MBA from Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
Guyette was on track for a career in banking but that didn’t work out.
“Banking was in turmoil, so I ended up [in] insurance,” he said.
Guyette most recently served as president of national accounts for Aetna in Hartford, Conn., where he was responsible for overseeing performance and business strategy for Aetna’s more than 8 million members. Prior to joining Aetna in 2010, he held senior leadership positions at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida for eight years, including senior vice president for the company’s diversified business unit. He also served as chief sales officer and group vice president for national business.
Guyette previously held a variety of senior sales and marketing positions with Independence Blue Cross/AmeriHealth Inc. in both Philadelphia and Houston. He also worked for Prudential Healthcare and Continental Insurance in various Texas and Oklahoma markets.
In 2010, Guyette served as chairman for the Consortium of Health Plans, a coalition of 21 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that was founded in 1994 to help position the Blues system as the carrier of choice for national accounts.
Married and with three children, Guyette said the family would be relocated from Connecticut to the Twin Cities area once the kids complete the school year, although, he added, they’re ready to pick up and go right away.
Guyette has roots in Rhode Island. His parents, Richard and Patricia Guyette, live in Coventry and the family has plans to be here for Christmas.
“I do miss Rhode Island,” he confessed.
The company is heralding Guyette’s arrival.
In a release issued by BCBS of Minnesota, chairman Vance Opperman said, “I want to express how pleased we are to have Michael Guyette leading Blue Cross into the next phase of our work as a company committed to the health of all. He has a strong track record in driving organizational growth, fostering operational excellence and innovation. Michael has demonstrated great leadership and strategic focus in his previous roles, and given his strong health industry experience he is ideally suited to take the helm of the state’s largest health plan in today’s fast-paced, dynamic environment.”
Guyette said he sees ample challenges and opportunities in his new job and expects it to keep him busy for a long time.
With a history that includes leading a small start-up to becoming the CEO of a major insurer, he confessed, “I see this as a good stopping point for me.”