Year One As AHIP CEO: What I’ve Learned

by Marilyn Tavenner

July 21, 2016

This week marked my first year as President and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans. Prior to joining AHIP, I worked in all aspects of health care, as a nurse, as a hospital and health system executive, and as a state and federal government official.

My focus has always been on how to improve access to quality, affordable care. Now leading the health insurance industry, this focus takes on added importance. After one year, here’s what I’ve learned about this association and how we’re helping to drive affordability, consumerism, and value in health care.

The most surprising thing I learned this past year was that we could represent so many diverse companies and do it so well. Every time I am in the field, such as this past week in Omaha, that lesson is reinforced over and over. AHIP is committed to helping our member companies – national and regional health plans, life and health companies – best serve their consumers and support their health and their financial well-being. This means going above and beyond to empower consumers with meaningful information so they can take charge of their health coverage and their health.

For example, in recognizing that the accuracy and completeness of provider directories is a critical issue for both health plans and consumers, AHIP earlier this year launched a provider directory pilot in three states with 12 member plans and more than 100,000 providers. With this pilot project, we’re building on the industry’s ongoing efforts to improve consumers’ access to care and to provide the information they need to make informed choices about where they receive care.

It’s no secret that the nation must address the soaring cost of medical care. This year I saw firsthand how AHIP helped put a much greater focus on the main drivers of medical cost growth – soaring prices for medical services, new costly prescription drugs and medical technologies, unhealthy lifestyles, and a broken fee-for-service reimbursement system.

Health plans are playing an important role in reining in escalating health care costs, partnering with providers to implement high-value payment systems. Our members are implementing and scaling up innovative payment models and working to improve alignment among public and private payers so that individuals and families get the best value for their health care dollars.

Those changes are powerful, and I look forward to the consumer-driven reforms that our members and this industry will continue to lead in the year ahead.

Marilyn Tavenner is President and CEO of AHIP.

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