Women take leading roles at health plans

While it's rare to find companies in the business industry where women chair the boards, two of the biggest health insurers in Massachusetts have a Madam Chair, according to the Boston Globe.

Healthcare has seen an increase in female executives--half of hospital chief operating officers and a third of chief financial officers are women. Moreover, at Blue Cross Blue Shield and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care--both of which have female board chairs--women hold five of the 14 seats on the Blue Cross board and five of 12 for Harvard Pilgrim.

WellPoint recently made Working Mother magazine's 2014 list of Best Companies for Multicultural Women. Diverse women comprise 25 percent of the insurer's workforce, with six holding vice president positions, notes LifeHealthPro.

The healthcare sector attracts women, who often excel in caregiver roles, thanks to flexible and family-friendly schedules. Blue Cross CEO Andrew Dreyfus notes that having women in senior positions helps the insurer understand its customers. "Who makes the decision on healthcare in families? It's almost always women," Dreyfus told the Globe.

Yet while the female presence in Massachusetts is particularly strong, the lack of active women physicians and leaders nationwide is puzzling given that women are collaborative, empathetic, motivated to make a difference, and the healthcare decision-makers of the home--all factors that should qualify them for leadership positions in the field, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

What's more, adding women to boards may help reduce fraud in the mostly male-dominated industry. One reason for the apparently inverse relationship between fraud rates and board gender diversity is that women may contribute to a more talented board with multiple viewpoints, according to a previous Chinese study, FierceHealthPayer: Anti-Fraud previously reported.

For more:
- read the Boston Globe article
- here's the LifeHealthPro piece