John Forsyth is Chairman and CEO of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
of Iowa and CEO of its subsidiary, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
of South Dakota. Wellmark is the largest health insurer in both states,
providing health care financing and delivery for more than 1.9 million
Forsyth joined Wellmark in August 1996 and was named Chairman
in 2000. During his tenure, Forsyth has repositioned Wellmark Blue
Cross and Blue Shield as a health improvement company dedicated to
serving the people of Iowa and South Dakota.
During his 10 years with the company, Wellmark has achieved exceptional
results while achieving operating efficiencies. The company has increased
its enrollment in each of the years since Forsyth’s arrival and kept
its administrative costs among the lowest in the nation.
Believing the extensive health care data maintained by Wellmark Blue
Cross and Blue Shield could provide a powerful catalyst for action
to improve community health throughout Iowa and South Dakota, Forsyth
has shared Wellmark’s vast database with community leaders, policymakers,
customers, and others. The most visible example of this is the publishing
of The Wellmark Report, a comprehensive look at health status in both
states – focusing most recently on prescription drugs.
Through Forsyth’s leadership, The Wellmark Foundation focuses
its philanthropic activities on projects to invest in and improve the
health of the people of Iowa and South Dakota, awarding more than $1
million annually for community-based health initiatives.
Before joining Wellmark, Forsyth served in a variety of executive
roles over a 26-year career with the University of Michigan. In 1985,
Forsyth was named President and CEO of the University of Michigan
Forsyth holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and
a master's degree in economics from Michigan State University.
Forsyth was named by Gov. Tom Vilsack to the Iowa Board of Regents
in April 2003, and served as president of the board from April 2004
to January 2005. In April 2000, at Gov. Vilsack’s request, Forsyth
led a statewide task force on teacher compensation, which resulted
in precedent-setting changes to teacher pay in Iowa.
Forsyth served as president of the Federation of Iowa Insurers in
2001-2002, and is a member of the Iowa Business Council, serving as
its chair in 2004. In September 2003, he was elected
to the board of directors of Baxter, International, Inc., and in May
2004, named chair of the Compensation Committee.
A contributing author and editor for various publications throughout
his career, including the Journal of the American College of Healthcare
Executives, Forsyth has chaired the board of directors of the United
Way of Central Iowa, the Variety Club Annual Telethon, the Greater
Des Moines Partnership, and continues to chair the Investment Committee
of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He has served, and
continues to serve on numerous national committees of the Blue Cross
and Blue Shield Association, including serving on its board of directors.