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‘Ohana > More OhanaWinter 2013 IS Magazine12/26/12 IS Online

The Gold Standard

Mike Gold takes the reins as HMSA’s new president and chief executive officer.

By Chance Gusukuma

The year was 1970. “I was young, I came to Hawai‘i, and I never left,” says Mike Gold. “That was 42 years ago.” After graduating from UH-Mānoa, Gold briefly considered pursuing a graduate degree in philosophy. “I had to make a choice of going to graduate school on the Mainland or staying in Hawai‘i. It was a pretty easy choice.”

Higher education’s loss became health care’s gain. Gold joined HMSA in 1974 and, over the next 38 years, held management positions in product development, underwriting, marketing, and planning. Named chief operating officer in 1997, Gold oversaw all of the nonprofit’s operating functions, including marketing, provider services, customer service, account services, and community relations. In addition to his role as chief architect of HMSA’s innovation and transformation initiatives, Gold oversaw the company’s work to meet the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. On December 1, he succeeded Bob Hiam as HMSA’s president and chief executive officer.

As HMSA celebrates its 75th anniversary, Island Scene sat down with Gold to talk about what members can expect from Hawai‘i’s most experienced health plan.

ISLAND SCENE: What do you see as the biggest challenges for HMSA moving forward?

MIKE GOLD: The challenge is always to stay up-to-date and contemporary. By “contemporary,” I mean staying in touch with what’s going on in our community and not thinking that what we’ve always done in the past is going to work; keeping in touch with our goals, mission, and vision of what a health plan ought to be; and doing our work in a way that relates to people on an everyday basis.

IS: Traditionally, HMSA members have relied on HMSA for medical coverage and benefits. But today when we talk about a health plan, there’s more than just medical coverage.

GOLD: That’s right. We will always be there for our members. But we also recognize that to build a sustainable health care system, it’s more than simply paying claims. We have to do things that we’ve never done before to make all that happen. We need more collaborative arrangements with physicians and hospitals. We need to provide our members more and better information so that they can make informed decisions. I really take that as a sacred trust. When people join HMSA, they expect us to do that, and we will get that done.

IS: What does HMSA offer its members that sets it apart from other health plans?

GOLD: We focus on the needs and desires of our members and we do it in a personal way. I think that’s what we’ve always done and what distinguishes us from any other local health plan. We believe in what we’re doing, and we try to do it in a way that is both personal and innovative.

IS: Do you have a vision of what a patient’s interaction with a doctor will be in 2020?

GOLD: By the time we get to 2020, I really hope we’re at a point where the patient is at the center of the health care system. I hope the patient understands what health and health care is, and takes responsibility. That’s the direction we’re moving in and I think we can be there by 2020.

IS: In the patient-centered model, we talk about patients having the responsibility to speak up when they see their doctors. Do HMSA members have an opportunity to tell HMSA what they want and need in a health plan?

GOLD: I believe they do. At HMSA, we are always out there listening, and we need to do more of that. We aren’t just sitting in our offices waiting for member phone calls. For example, we have started taking customer service out into the field to talk to our members. We want to hear what they’re saying. We try to give our members as many roads into us, to talk to us, through as many means as we can.

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