“Marilyn Bartlett took a deep breath, drew herself up to her full 5 feet and a smidge, and told the handful of Montana officials that she had a radical strategy to bail out the state’s foundering benefit plan for its 30,000 employees and their families,” Marshall Allen writes over at ProPublica. “The officials were listening. Their health plan was going broke, with losses that could top $50 million in just a few years. It needed a savior, but none of the applicants to be its new administrator had wowed them. Now here was a self-described pushy 64-year-old grandmother interviewing for the job. Bartlett came with some unique qualifications. She’d just spent 13 years on the insurance industry side, first as a controller for a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, then as the chief financial officer for a company that administered benefits. She was a potent combination of irreverent and nerdy, a certified public accountant whose Smart car’s license plate reads ‘DR CR,’ the Latin abbreviations for ‘debit’ and ‘credit.’ Most importantly, Bartlett understood something the state officials didn’t: the side deals, kickbacks and lucrative clauses that industry players secretly build into medical costs. Everyone, she’d observed, was profiting except the employers and workers paying the tab.” Marshall Allen, “In Montana, a Tough Negotiator Proved Employers Don’t Have to Pay So Much for Health Care,” ProPublica.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.