Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker on Challenges Facing Health Care System

October 26, 2006

Charlie BakerCharlie Baker, CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, said the health care system faces a number of challenges, but one of the most significant is how Americans take care of themselves.

Speaking at the CEO Breakfast earlier this month, Baker noted that the health care system also needs to be more transparent, and more accountable for cost and quality, “Any health care provider will tell you that one of the primary drivers of health status is personal behavior,” he said.

“We eat more than we probably should, we don’t get enough exercise, we weigh more than we should. We don’t smoke as much as we used to which is a good thing. But we are way more stressed out than we once were,” he said. “We simply don’t take as good care of ourselves physically as we once did.”

In 1999 and 2000, Baker led an effort to save Harvard Pilgrim from insolvency. “one of the nice things about being in trouble and worrying about survival is that it forces you to get pretty clear about what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Today, he said, there are things the American health care system needs to do to keep itself healthy.

“It’s a good news-bad news story,” he said. “The health care system can do more for more people in more ways today than it could five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. The hard part is figuring out how we are planning on paying for all that.”

His prescription for the system includes greater transparency about its true costs. Also, he said, there should be better and more available information about cost and quality of health care.


7 Responses to “Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker on Challenges Facing Health Care System”

  1. Bill Burke '66 on October 27th, 2006 3:03 pm

    Now that I’ve seen the blog, I’ll probably become a regular.

  2. Stephanie Brucato on November 17th, 2006 6:59 pm

    Great idea.

  3. Kate McGonigle on November 18th, 2006 11:44 am

    In regards to Health Care, it is important to take care of oneself but the bigger issue is to make Health Care affordable to all citizens.

  4. Jon Lobaczewski '78 on November 18th, 2006 8:08 pm

    Good Point.

  5. Judy on November 20th, 2006 10:46 am

    It’s great to see an event like this so well publicized. Mr. Baker was a fantastic speaker and many can learn from his words of wisdom.

  6. Lucille Janatka on November 20th, 2006 11:40 am

    Important points for us to address. However, I would add the complicated issue of setting limitations on our expectations. We seem to be able to do this in other industries, but not in healthcare.

  7. Kevin on November 21st, 2006 9:07 am


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