May 1, 2008: 6:59 AM EDT
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'We all pay for the uninsured' (cont.)

By Geoff Colvin, senior editor at large

Of the three major presidential candidates, whose health-care plan do you like?

There are elements I like in all of them. Our position on the individual coverage requirement is a little different from either Senator Clinton's or Senator Obama's. Senator Obama's is for kids. Senator Clinton's, as I understand it, is for a coverage requirement on everybody. We say a coverage requirement for those who can afford it, and leave it to the policymakers to decide where. I don't see enough time and effort directed at getting at the 20% of the uninsured who are eligible today and could be covered if we would simply sign them up.

Senator Clinton in particular loves to pound on the health-care insurance industry. Why isn't the industry better liked, and is that ever going to change?

We do sit in a very uncomfortable intersection. We have the employer whom we lay out the health plans to, and we say, "You can buy good, better, or best." We have the employees who, when they make a plan selection, are thinking about their family budget and not necessarily about the car wreck or the health problem that's around the corner.

Physicians, whom we understand and try to collaborate with, really are concerned with delivering high-quality care, being good advocates for their patients as individuals, and receiving maximum reimbursement for their services. So it's a pretty uncomfortable intersection. And when the employee calls up and says, "I have a plan in which my cost sharing is 20%. How come I don't have a plan where my cost sharing is 5%?" we've found it not to be great for business to say, "We offered your employer one, and he chose the one you've got."

What were the most important factors in your becoming the CEO of Aetna (AET, Fortune 500)?

A willingness to reinvent myself and to recognize that when one has a set of aspirations, and you reach them, there's a huge opportunity to ask yourself what more you can do.

I've been very fortunate. I've worked with some great executives. I grew up in a generation that didn't have a lot of role models who looked like me in the business community. So I've been very deeply committed to increasing diversity in our company and in the industry.

I had a great academic experience. MIT's Sloan School of Management was a terrific school, and it helped transform me from a functional specialist into a real generalist who had a more strategic point of view and perspective. I've always been one who sought out challenges and troubled situations, because I have found that you learn a lot in taking a chaotic situation and creating structure, process, and strategy. I'd have to say luck counts too. Staying healthy counts, which is extremely important.  To top of page

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