Braly herself was also something of a poster child for an industry often portrayed as out of touch with the realities of the needs of its members. Consumer WatchDog, a consumer advocacy group, called her "the health insurance world's Marie Antoinette" for what it considers insensitive remarks about members who struggle to pay their health insurance premiums.
According to the SEC Form 8-K filed bright and early Wednesday morning on WellPoint's investor page, Braly will remain on the WellPoint payroll through the end of 2012. No other details regarding her exit package have been released.
Press reports have placed her annual salary at just over $1 million; her annual compensation package, which includes various stock options and performance bonuses, has been estimated at more than $13 million.
The big question now is who will replace Braly at the helm of WellPoint? According to the press release that announced Braly's departure, the company will hire a search firm to review internal and external candidates.
Various analysts and investor groups have tossed out the names of a number of potential candidates. James Carlson, the CEO of Amerigroup, seems to be on many lists. Carlson was already expected to move into WellPoint's inner sanctum of leadership once the acquisition of Amerigroup is complete.
This is the first significant management change among the major health plans since healthcare reform became law. Expect all eyes to remain on this hiring process.