Joan Budden, CEO of Priority Health, to Retire

Joan Budden
Joan Budden // Photo courtesy of Priority Health

Joan Budden, president and CEO of Grand Rapids’ Priority Health, the second largest health plan in the state, has announced her plans to retire, effective Jan. 1. She will remain active through the end of the year to aid in the transition to the next president and CEO.

“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,” Budden says. “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.”

Budden began her career at Priority Health in 2009 as chief marketing officer. She was named president and CEO in 2016. She championed many strategies, products, and programs with the goal of ensuring access to affordable care for everyone. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Priority Health offered financial support to members and employers through premium credits and is waiving cost sharing for virtual visits through 2021.

Under Budden’s leadership, Priority Health has become the third largest provider-sponsored health plan in the United States, doubling its size over the past decade to serve 1 million members each year. The health plan is included in the Grand Rapids-based integrated health system Spectrum Health.

“Joan’s focus on affordability and value have been vital in advancing us toward our vision of personalized health made simple, affordable, and exceptional,” says Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health System. “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.”

Budden was named a Detroit 500 Honoree in 2018 and 2019 and a Powered by Women honoree by DBusiness magazine in 2016, among other awards.

She 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 in Ann Arbor and a master’s degree in public administration from Wayne State University in Detroit.

Budden 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 Corp., and Alliance of Community Health Plans, where she has worked to influence policy at both the state and federal level.

Freese Decker will engage the Furst Group, a health care executive search and consulting firm in Illinois, for an internal and external national search for Budden’s replacement..

Spectrum Health System is a not-for-profit integrated health system that offers care and wellness services through 14 hospitals and 150 ambulatory sites.

Priority Health offers a network that includes 97 percent of primary care physicians in the state.

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