Spectrum Health and Priority Health announce retirement of Joan Budden, Priority Health President & CEO

(Grand Rapids, Mich. - July 15, 2020) Priority Health President & CEO Joan Budden today announced her plans to retire, effective January 1, 2021. 

“Knowing the company is in a strong position has allowed me to plan for the next chapter in my life which includes spending more time with family and continuing my passion for mentoring and community service,” said Joan Budden, President & CEO, Priority Health. “I’m incredibly proud and honored to have worked with exceptional people over the last 12 years within the company, along with our partners and community leaders to improve health. Priority Health is in good hands with a strong leadership team.” 

Under Budden’s leadership, Priority Health has grown significantly to become the third largest provider-sponsored health plan in the country. Doubling its size over the past decade, the plan now serves 1 million members each year. The merger with Total Health Care completed at the beginning of 2020 and the more formalized relationship with Cigna Health, effective January 1, 2021, have helped fuel membership growth. As the second largest health plan in Michigan, Priority Health continues to be recognized as a leader for quality, customer service, transparency and product innovation.

Budden began her career at Priority Health in 2009 as chief marketing officer and was named President and CEO in 2016. During her tenure, she championed many innovative strategies, products and programs with the goal of ensuring everyone has access to affordable care—as a member, employer, agent or provider. As an example, Priority Health offered financial support to members and employers during the COVID-19 pandemic through premium credits and is waiving cost sharing for all virtual visits through the end of the year. 

“Joan’s focus on affordability and value have been vital in advancing us toward our vision of personalized health made simple, affordable and exceptional,” said Tina Freese Decker, President & CEO, Spectrum Health, the integrated health system that includes Priority Health.  “She cares deeply about the company but more importantly she cares about individuals—and is willing to give generously of her time and talent to mentor others.” 

Michigan Women Forward (MWF) recently selected Budden as a recipient of its 2020 Woman of Achievement and Courage Award. She was one of three women leaders recognized statewide by the organization dedicated to mentoring and investing in women entrepreneurs across Michigan. Among her list of accolades, Budden was named a Detroit 500 Honoree in 2018 and 2019, among the Notable Women in Healthcare by Crain’s Detroit in 2018, an Inforum Inner Circle Honoree and ATHENA Award Winner by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce in 2017, and one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan by Crain’s Business Detroit in 2016. 

Budden has more than 30 years of experience in the health insurance industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in public administration from Wayne State University. Budden’s hometown is Detroit, where she lived with her parents and three siblings. Her ties to both the east and west sides of the state have fostered her strong work ethic and sense of community—family traits she and her husband, Doug, instilled in their two grown children, Mitchell and Megan.

She currently serves as a board member for the Detroit and Grand Rapids Economic Clubs, Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, UFP, Independent Bank Corporation and Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), a national leadership organization focused on advocating for better health care nationwide. In her role at ACHP, she has worked to influence policy at both the state and federal level. 

Freese Decker will engage the Furst Group for an internal and external national search for the president of Priority Health. The Furst Group is ranked as one of Modern Healthcare’s 10 largest executive search firms and one of America’s Best Executive Search Firms by Forbes. Confidential inquires can be directed to the Furst Group via their website furstgroup.com.

Budden will remain active in her role to ensure a smooth transition through the end of the year.

About Priority Health:

With over 30 years in business, Priority Health is the second largest health plan in Michigan, offering a broad portfolio of health benefits options for employer groups and individuals, including Medicare and Medicaid plans. Serving more than a million members each year, and offering a network that includes 97 percent of primary care physicians in Michigan, Priority Health continues to be recognized as a leader for quality, customer service, transparency and product innovation. Priority Health is the smart choice for people seeking affordable, quality health coverage. 

About Spectrum Health

Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,600 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 150 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $585 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.