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As CEO of the state’s largest health insurer,
About six weeks ago, they started wearing pedometers to record the number of steps they take. It quickly developed into a contest to see who could walk more in a given day. Dreyfus found himself parking at the far end of shopping centers to make sure he couldn’t be one-upped when he got home.
The chief executive of
Dreyfus was put in the perfect position to spread his cost- containment gospel when he was promoted to the CEO’s job at the
But that was before the
It may be hard to pin the blame for this on Dreyfus. But he still could end up the focus of the public’s anger. As the head of this massive nonprofit organization, Dreyfus could find the leadership role he has taken in the state’s health care debate threatened by the events of the past two weeks.
First, we learned that former CEO
Then, it was the board’s turn in the spotlight, the people who approved Killingsworth’s lavish pay package. The outside directors were earning
Dreyfus says executive pay levels play a minimal part in the premiums that are passed on to insurers’ customers. But the public perception matters, of course. That’s especially true if Dreyfus wants the state’s health care providers to be more cost-conscious – and if he wants the state Legislature to adopt new reforms aimed at keeping spiraling medical expenses in check.
That’s probably why Dreyfus says he told the board when he was promoted that the compensation culture at
Dreyfus admits to being concerned that the uproar over Killingsworth’s pay could undermine his own mission to wrestle down health care costs. He says he has told his managers that they can’t let up on the insurer’s affordability agenda, not for one moment, despite all the negative publicity.
He accepts the anger, the outrage. But he hopes the public will believe that he has changed the corporate culture as new pay levels are disclosed in the coming years.
Dreyfus also hopes policymakers and customers won’t forget his track record in the past 10 years as a member of the
Some of the successful efforts to curb health care costs have been modest, or symbolic. For example,
To address frequent emergency room visits among municipal workers, the insurer promoted its Blue Care Line to those members. The 24-hour hotline allows members to chat with a nurse about medical questions before heading to the ER.
To encourage customers to join,
That program is one way of persuading consumers to think more about the underlying costs of their health care. But it’s also aimed at prodding the hospitals that landed on the high-cost list. Dreyfus says
Dreyfus also has been the guiding force behind the insurer’s most important effort to control runaway costs.
Two years ago,
This system is now seen as a model as state lawmakers march slowly toward their second stage of health care reform. Access to health care was all but solved with the state’s 2006 law. But we’re still a long way from fixing the affordability problem.
Dreyfus knows it’s more crucial than ever for the state’s largest health insurer to be a leader in this debate. He also knows it will be a challenge to get beyond the disruption and criticism – some of it well-deserved – that