Regina Herzlinger
Professor, Harvard Business School
01:41

Empower Workers to Choose Their Own Health Insurance Carriers

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Regina Herzlinger scoffs at companies making medical decisions for their employees

Regina Herzlinger

Regina E. Herzlinger is the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration Chair at the Harvard Business School. She was the first woman to be tenured and chaired at Harvard Business School and the first to serve on a number of corporate boards. She is widely recognized for her innovative research in health care, including her early predictions of the unraveling of managed care and the rise of consumer-driven health care and health care focused factories, two terms that she coined. 

Her book, Who Killed Health Care? (NY: McGraw-Hill, 2007), was selected by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of the ten books that changed the debate in 2008.  

Her book, Consumer-Driven Health Care: Implications for Providers, Payers, and Policymakers (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 2004) received the 2004 American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year award for History and Public Policy.

She has won the Consumers’ for Health Care Choices Pioneer in Health Economics award, the American College of Heatlhcare Executives’ Hamilton Book of the Year award twice, the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s Board f Directors award, and Management College of Physician Executive. Modern Healthcare’s readers regularly selected her as among the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” and Managed Healthcare named her one of health care’s top ten thinkers. In recognition of her work in nonprofit accounting and control, she was named the first Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh. In addition, she has delivered many keynote addresses at annual meetings of large health care and business groups and been selected as one of the outstanding instructors of the Harvard Business School MBA Program.

She has served on the Scientific Advisory Group to the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force and as a board member of many private and publicly-traded firms, mostly in the consumer-driven health care space, often as chair of the Governance and Audit subcommittees.

Transcript

Question: How should health insurance be reformed?

 

Regina Herzlinger: When Harvard University, my brilliant employer, buys health insurance on my behalf, I have zero input into their decision about how they are going to spend my money. I want to have a 100% input into that decision. And there are lots of people who feel the same as I do.

Now, if they want to stay with their employers, and have them by their health insurance for them, fine. As for me, give me back my money. Give it to me in the same way that Harvard University can use that money, which is tax free, require me to buy health insurance, let me go to work on that system. Tens of millions of people like me are going to have the profound impact on health care. That's consumer-driven health care.

Business involvement in health care should be limited to providing better and more efficient ways of delivering health care, not to act as agents for consumers.

I don't want my employer to buy my clothes. I don't want them to buy my food. I don't want them to buy my car. I don't want them to buy my house. Not that they're stupid. But they don't know what I consider value for money. I want them out of the health insurance purchase decision.

 

Recorded on: May 27, 2009.

 


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