Fortune Brainstorm Health 2017, Bertolini, Aetna, Fortune

Aetna’s Bertolini on changing health care, investing in employee wellness

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Speaking at the second annual Fortune Brainstorm HEALTH conference, Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark T. Bertolini talked about why the company is focusing on a holistic view of health to change how health care is delivered.

“You have to look at what are the drivers of life expectancy,” Bertolini told Alan Murray, president of Fortune and the chief content officer of Time Inc. “Only 10 percent of life expectancy is determined by clinical care, 30 percent is due to your genetic code, 20 percent by social determinants, and the remaining 40 percent is determined by your lifestyle.”

“So where you live – your zip code is more important than your genetic code.”

Fortune Brainstorm Health Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017. San Diego, CA 9:05 AM A CEO’S JOURNEY: FROM SELF-DISCOVERY TO DISRUPTION Mark Bertolini is one of the most forceful advocates calling for a change in corporate culture—one where the company’s focus isn’t just on the bottom line, but also on the wellness of its employees. The fact that he’s also the CEO of the country’s largest health insurer makes the message all the more compelling. In a freewheeling 1-on-1 interview with Time Inc.’s Chief Content Officer, Alan Murray, Bertolini relates how two very personal health care crises dramatically transformed his management philosophy—and why other corporate leaders should take heed. Mark T. Bertolini, Chairman and CEO, Aetna Inc. Interviewer: Alan Murray, Time Inc. Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Health Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark T. Bertolini speaks at the Fortune Brainstorm HEALTH conference in May 2017. | Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Health

The conference focused on how to speed up the digital health care revolution. Discussions focused on what’s working and what’s not, how to get investment into the right areas and overcome the barriers that stand in the way of progress.

Fortune Brainstorm Health Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017. San Diego, CA 9:05 AM A CEO’S JOURNEY: FROM SELF-DISCOVERY TO DISRUPTION Mark Bertolini is one of the most forceful advocates calling for a change in corporate culture—one where the company’s focus isn’t just on the bottom line, but also on the wellness of its employees. The fact that he’s also the CEO of the country’s largest health insurer makes the message all the more compelling. In a freewheeling 1-on-1 interview with Time Inc.’s Chief Content Officer, Alan Murray, Bertolini relates how two very personal health care crises dramatically transformed his management philosophy—and why other corporate leaders should take heed. Mark T. Bertolini, Chairman and CEO, Aetna Inc. Interviewer: Alan Murray, Time Inc. Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Health Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark T. Bertolini speaks with Alan Murray, president of Fortune and chief content officer for Time Inc.,  at the Fortune Brainstorm HEALTH conference in May 2017. | Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Health

Bertolini, whose session was called, “A CEO’s Journey: From Self-Discovery to Disruption,” reflected on how two health crises – a rare cancer diagnosis for his son and a near-death skiing accident – shaped his view of the health care system.

Instead of defining a person by their injury or illness, Bertolini said a person’s health should be looked at from a personal level. He added that technology, when used appropriately, could help.

“When people talk about their health, they do not define themselves by their disease state … People talk about their health as what it prevents them from doing,” he said. “So what we need to find out about people – and this is what real personalized medicine is about – is, what is it about your health that you would love to do that your health doesn’t let you do? And if we can help you with that, you’ll engage. Then you bring the technology in to help with it.”

Bertolini also spoke about Aetna’s “Social Compact” and how the company is investing in its associates.

“Why shouldn’t we invest in employees the way we invest in machines?” Bertolini said.

In January 2015, Aetna increased the minimum hourly wage for U.S. employees to $16 per hour, which created higher wages for about 5,700 employees. The company also launched an enhanced benefits program that helped lower out-of-pocket health care expenses for thousands of eligible U.S. employees.

In August 2016, Aetna announced a student loan repayment program. The company is matching loan payment contributions up to $2,000 a year with a lifetime maximum of up to $10,000 for full-time U.S. employees who graduated on or after Dec. 1, 2013. For part-time employees, Aetna will match contributions up to $1,000 a year with a lifetime maximum of $5,000.