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Elizabeth D. Bierbower
President, Employer Group Segment
Elizabeth D. Bierbower is president of the Employer Group Segment at Louisville, Ky.-based Humana Inc., responsible for developing strategy and overseeing distribution and marketing operations for Humana's employer-focused business, which generates more than $9 billion in annual revenue. Previously, Ms. Bierbower was chief operating officer of Humana Specialty Benefits, one of the health insurer's fastest-growing divisions, employing more than 2,200 associates and generating nearly $1 billion in revenue. Ms. Bierbower also has served as Humana's vice president of product innovation, overseeing the company's commercial product development activities and its consumer strategy, including the HealthMiles rewards and exercise program in partnership with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group Ltd. Ms. Bierbower also was named co-inventor on a pharmacy patent tied to pharmacy-based health reimbursement arrangements. Prior to joining Humana, Ms. Bierbower worked at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Coventry Corp. in numerous roles. She has a bachelor of arts in sociology from Carlow College in Pittsburgh and a master's degree in public management from Carnegie Mellon University. Ms. Bierbower also has written a book titled “Engage! A Guide to Involving Your Consumers in Their Health,” published in 2007.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
We do our best when we're passionate about what we do — and are 110% committed to it. Insurance is all about providing people with peace of mind and security, and in the case of health insurance, we also try to improve one's health. We should be proud and privileged to serve our customers. Life-long learning related to our industry as well as outside our industry is key to enrichment and success. Some of the most useful things I've learned have been unrelated to insurance, but I have found a way to apply the concepts in this arena with amazing results.
WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED IN YOUR LIFE?
Ask for what you want. No one else will do it for you. Many women don't ask for what they want; rather, they wait to receive what they want, which may never come, or similarly, wait to be chosen. Ask, and more often than not you'll be rewarded, if not immediately, then sometime in the near future.
WHAT'S THE BEST-KEPT SECRET ABOUT WORKING IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY?
The insurance industry is often viewed as policies and complicated contracts, but at the end of the day it's about people and helping them live healthier lives and protect their families and their assets. What can be more important than that?
WHAT'S THE NEXT MAJOR CHALLENGE IN YOUR BUSINESS SECTOR?
The health industry lags almost all others in being transparent and demonstrating value for the money spent. Simplifying health care and making cost, performance and quality information as accessible to people as the cost and quality of other products is a huge opportunity. While the industry continues to focus on improving health and lowering costs, we must invest in longer-term initiatives such as investment in prevention and lifestyle changes, which may lower costs over the long run. We need to continue to push for transparency, accountability and value.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
I exercise, walk, bike, garden or read, all of which “de-stress” me.
WHAT'S YOUR SECRET VICE?
I love to write and am writing a novel. I also take one or two online writing classes per year.
WHAT SKILL HAS BEEN AN UNEXPECTED AID TO YOUR CAREER?
The ability to ask questions or present ideas in a way that gets people to think differently has been a skill that has served me well over the years.
WHAT'S AT THE TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
I would like to see my hockey team win the Stanley Cup Final — in person.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women doing outstanding work in insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.