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.”
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.
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.