Anthem has sued a former senior executive for allegedly poaching more than a dozen Anthem employees and using confidential information to benefit a competing health plan.
Indianapolis-based Anthem accused former executive Nancy Gareau, who is now the CEO of small, Spring Hill, Fla.-based Medicare Advantage insurer Ultimate Health Plans, of leading a "full-on raid" on Anthem's workforce.
Anthem alleged that Gareau violated a restricted stock unit agreement by soliciting at least 14 Anthem employees, including eight in the last two weeks, to join Ultimate. The complaint also claimed that Gareau and other Anthem employees who joined Ultimate solicited Anthem's physician providers.
"The purpose of Gareau's raid is to leverage her knowledge of Anthem's high-performing employees to expand Ultimate into counties where it currently does not do business, primarily to Anthem's detriment," the complaint said.
Gareau previously worked for Anthem as a regional vice president with responsibility over the provider networks of Anthem's subsidiaries Freedom Health and Optimum HealthCare, according to the lawsuit. She was a longtime executive at Freedom Health, which was operated by America's 1st Choice, when Anthem acquired America's 1st Choice in February 2018.
Gareau became an Anthem employee as a result of that acquisition and in March 2019, she received a restricted stock grant for 147 shares of Anthem stock, subject to conditions outlined in a restricted stock unit agreement, according to the complaint. The agreement restricted her from using Anthem's confidential information, competing against Anthem or soliciting customers, providers and employees.
In December 2019, Gareau told Anthem she was leaving to become CEO of Ultimate and Anthem agreed to waive the non-compete provision if she complied with the rest of the agreement, according to the complaint. But Anthem argued that Gareau instead "violated her restrictive covenant obligations and attempted to rebuild her former reporting and sales network at Anthem by a targeted employee raid on Anthem's operations in Florida."
Gareau solicited longstanding Anthem providers to join contracts with Ultimate, which harmed Anthem's ability to prepare for the Medicare open enrollment period that begins in October, Anthem argued.
Anthem asked the court to prohibit Gareau from violating the restricted stock unit agreement and disclosing the company's confidential information and trade secrets. The company also asked for compensatory damages and reimbursement of its legal costs.
Anthem and Gareau did not respond to requests for comment.
Ultimate Health Plans reported a net loss of $6.2 million on revenue of $71.8 million in 2019, according to documents filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It covered 7,700 members last year. Anthem, which insures about 42 million people, reported 2019 net income of $4.8 billion on revenue of $104.2 billion in 2019, according to its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.