Simon Stevens will take on the role of NHS England chief executive in April 2014.
Stevens has worked as an NHS manager and was previously Labour’s health advisor. He is currently United Healthcare’s global health president.
He would have been given the same salary as outgoing chief executive Sir David Nicholson (£211,000), but offered to take a 10% pay cut in the first year, due to “NHS spending pressures”.
NHS England chairman Professor Sir Malcolm Grant told the BBC’s Today programme: "The NHS has to be open to ideas from across the world. All nations are facing a crisis in the affordability of healthcare and the American experience is valuable to us.
"We wanted the best in the world and we've got I think the best in the world. Of course we've got somebody who's got experience both of the public health system in this country and of the best of American healthcare.”
Oxford-educated Stevens said: "It will be a privilege to lead NHS England - at a time when the stakes have never been higher - because I believe in the NHS, and because I believe that a broad new partnership of patients, carers, staff and the public can together chart a successful future for our health service."
In May Sir David said he was stepping down after seven years in the role.
He had faced repeated calls to resign over his role in the Stafford Hospital scandal.
Sir David spent 10 months in charge of the local health authority in 2005 and 2006 at the height of the problems.