Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. is one of the largest health insurers in the country and the single biggest carrier in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield system. The company insures 36 million people in more than a dozen states. It was formed in 2004 by the merger of WellPoint Health Networks and Anthem Inc.
The company has 46,000 employees and reported 2012 revenues of $61.7 billion.
WellPoint provides preferred provider organization, health maintenance organization and specialty network-based services.
The department, led by John Cannon, has staff in 19 states with a total employee number of 224, including 57 paralegals and 48 administrative staffers.
Cannon breaks down the attorney workload as follows: litigation and California business at 15 percent each; commercial business at 25 percent; government business at 20 percent; employment/enterprise and mergers and acquisitions, 10 percent each; and roughly 5 percent to corporate secretary duties. He was Well­Point’s interim president and CEO from August 2012 to March 2013.
WellPoint’s three largest corporate firms are Foley & Lardner, Reed Smith and Hogan Lovells. When Cannon joined the company in 2007, the company used about 350 outside law firms. Today, that number is 50. He developed a request-for-proposal process to identify top-producing firms that would offer discounts in exchange for volume work.
The system uses a variety of models ranging from volume discounts to flat and contingency fees. The company also negotiated free consultation hours in these arrangements.
Cannon’s background as a litigator tends to make him more high profile on litigation matters, but he also spends “a fair amount of time traveling” to handle governance matters, he said. In addition to overall legal strategy, corporate communications, litigation and board matters, Cannon directs legal compliance, regulatory and government affairs, and corporate security.
“I really enjoy the people I work with and for,” he said. “I’m viewed as a full business partner and I’m a consigliere on issues that don’t just stop at legal.”
ROUTE TO THE TOP
After graduating from Pennsyl­vania State University Dickinson School of Law in 1983, Cannon clerked for Richard Lowe, president judge of the Montgomery County, Pa., Court of Common Pleas. He then practiced as an associate at Rawle & Henderson in Philadelphia, where he focused on litigation and securities law.
For 19 years, he worked in CIGNA Corp.’s legal department, rising to senior vice president and deputy general counsel as well as chief counsel for CIGNA Healthcare and CIGNA International.
Cannon admits to experiencing a “midlife crisis” but said: “Instead of the red sports car, I’m taking flying lessons. That’s always been on my bucket list.” An avid photographer, he also enjoys cycling and working in the yard.
LAST BOOK AND MOVIE
His government-relations work led him to pick up Mark Leibovich’s “This Town,” an examination of Washington politics. He finally saw “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” “Nothing better than aliens!” he said.