To our stockholders, members, government and business partners, and associates:
Our journey began in 1985. During the past 32 years, our business has grown exponentially, yet our mission remains the same.
As I look back on 2017, I do so with a deep sense of gratitude for our nearly 9,000 WellCare associates. They put our values — Partnership, Integrity, Accountability, and One Team — into action every day with purpose and pride. Together, we built a culture that cares about results and how those results are achieved.
Three years ago we implemented a multi-year plan to focus on improving our operational and financial performance while positioning WellCare for long-term profitable growth. The investments we made in our people, processes and technology, combined with an unrelenting drive towards excellence, made 2017 the strongest year in WellCare’s history.
We achieved both revenue growth and continued margin expansion. Contributing to these results were the successful launch of our Nebraska Medicaid business, statewide expansion of our Medicaid business in Missouri, and the acquisitions of Universal American Corp., Care1st Arizona and certain assets of Phoenix Health Plans, Inc.
We remain focused on executing our strategy and continue to see opportunities to enhance our performance and deliver value to our stakeholders.
2017 was a pivotal point in our effort to improve our quality ratings across all markets. With a companywide focus, we dedicated resources to elevate our quality performance with the same rigor we brought to margin expansion. WellCare’s investment in quality initiatives combined with our acquisition of Universal American brought our percentage of Medicare Advantage members in 4-Star plans to nearly 39 percent as of December 31, 2017. Our New Jersey and Florida plans each gained a full Star — with Florida becoming the first legacy WellCare plan to reach four out of five Stars. And in Medicaid, seven of the nine WellCare markets that were rated by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) received quality scores that ranked us first or second.
While this is certainly a good start, we continue to vigilantly pursue quality improvement across all our businesses.
Our Approach To Care
Our mission is to help our members live better, healthier lives. We repositioned our brand in 2017 to best articulate how we deliver on this core purpose. We believe an integrated, holistic model that goes beyond healthcare is key to improving overall health.
Our new tagline, Beyond Healthcare. A Better You., expresses our belief that it is our responsibility to understand and help address our members’ social needs — such as stable housing, nutritious food, social connectivity and transportation — just as much as their physical, behavioral and pharmaceutical needs. These quality-of-life challenges must be managed to help our members achieve and maintain better health.
WellCare’s Center for CommUnity Impact is a tangible investment aimed at countering the social barriers to care that exist for both Medicare and Medicaid members. In 2017, the Center for CommUnity Impact connected more than 33,000 people to more than 106,000 social service resources, displacing the need for higher cost services with less costly community-based solutions.
Our brand repositioning also speaks to how we grow our talent and preserve our One Team culture through learning, development, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. It is a true representation of who we are, who we serve and what we do.
As part of our growth strategy, we are placing a greater focus on diversity and inclusion. Diverse workplaces produce higher financial returns and are more innovative and adaptable. We believe our most important opportunity is to help change the narrative to be a part of something significant in our workplace, which will support the continued innovation, relevance and resilience needed to best serve our stakeholders.
In support of this, in 2017, I signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. This commitment reflects WellCare’s responsibility to make a meaningful difference — a position we actively embrace. We also established the WellCare Diversity Council, responsible for reviewing enterprise goals to continue building a diverse workforce, an inclusive work culture, and a strategy for our relevance and reputation in our communities.
A Culture Of Corporate Social Responsibility
WellCare is a mission-driven company with community service integrated into our associate experience. In 2017, more than 6,000 associates volunteered to support our communities through WellCare Associate Volunteer Efforts (WAVE) and Day of Service (DOS) programs. Our WAVE program strives to enhance the health, well-being, safety, and quality of life for seniors and those who are disabled, economically disadvantaged and medically underserved. Approximately 75 percent of our associates participated in DOS group volunteer opportunities, which take place during the workday and are coordinated with local nonprofit organizations. We’re very proud that our volunteer rate is more than double the national average.
In addition, WellCare and the WellCare Community Foundation complement the time we give with funds and resources to enable community-based organizations to stay open and help more people.
For these reasons and more, WellCare was named to Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, ranking in the top-five among the health insurance and managed care industry. Along with our other 2017 accomplishments, this is a testament to the talent, dedication and hard work of our associates and what we can achieve together to best serve our stakeholders.
The national discussion on healthcare is at a critical point, with an urgency to find improved economics, while maintaining the quality of care. We believe one doesn’t have to be traded for the other. No segment of society is immune from being burdened by the exponential growth in the cost of healthcare. You can start with the federal government, and move on to state governments, employers, and to those most personally impacted — individuals and families.
Now is the time for WellCare to remain focused on fundamentals, and to continue discovering and piloting new ways to improve outcomes for our government partners and members. We are equally focused on delivering an associate experience that empowers our people to be their best, driving better results and personal and professional fulfillment.
On behalf of the board of directors and leadership team, I thank our associates and our provider and community partners for maintaining the discipline needed to deliver on our commitments to those who are counting on us. To our stockholders, thank you for your support as we continue to differentiate WellCare in the marketplace as a company dedicated to sustainable growth and unwavering support of our members, providers, government and business partners, associates and communities.
Kenneth A. Burdick
Chief Executive Officer
April 9, 2018