Ron Williams

CEO, Aetna
The critical issue is to restore confidence in the economy and stabilize our global financial markets. The second priority is to really to ensure that the country remains internationally competitive by investing in the American workforce and education to bolster intellectual capital of our country.

Health care is one area that has only been lightly touched by information technology. And technology can radically improve every aspect of health care. The next President can radically affect country by emphasizing the importance of information technology development for the health-care industry.

The Health Insurance Industry

Build on the strength of the employer-based system. Virtually all of our clients—the top 100 and 200 companies—employ extensive health-care benefits where prevention is covered 100%. They have programs in place to help someone who is diabetic, for example, and these companies have education literacy programs so employees understand their role and understand how to interact with their doctor and how to make extensive use of health records. All of these data are fed through algorithms, employers retain us to use that data to make recommendations when you as a patient might need a test. If you have a liver condition and go to the dermatologist and don't mention think to mention it, he might give you a prescription that interacts with the liver. But our system picks up the interaction and informs the physician. The system I described is widely in use among large employers. There is an opportunity to take all of theses innovations and give 100% preventive benefits to individuals and the small group insurance market.

Small Business

We can find new ways to pool small employers together into purchasing units so that small employers get the purchasing power of larger employers. We have to get the patient engaged and build on the strength of larger employers who understand their numbers.

In this country we have 45 million people uninsured. If we can reduce the uninsured by 20%, at least 9 million would go from uninsured to insured. And about 20% of the uninsured are eligible for Medicaid. When we hear talk of health care and health-care reform, we rarely hear talk about enrolling those eligible for Medicaid and children health insurance. Let's identify the 45 million and segment those into groups who can receive solutions and go after that problem.

The Next President

We see this as a bipartisan issue. There is no one silver bullet. It will be a public-private partnership, including physicians, hospitals, patients and government. And I believe it should be an extremely important priority for the next President. We hear a lot about the cost of health insurance. Health insurance costs a lot because health insurance premiums are a thermometer reading the temperature of the economy. But talking about it—the body banging on the thermometer—doesn't lower the temperature. We have to really look at how we make the health-care system perform better.

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