David L. Holmberg

President and CEO, Highmark Health and Chairman of the Board, Highmark Inc.

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David Holmberg is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Highmark Health.

David L. Holmberg is president and chief executive officer of Highmark Health, a $19 billion integrated health organization that includes one of America's largest Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers and a growing regional hospital and physician network. Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Highmark Health's 35,000 employees serve millions of customers nationwide through the nonprofit organization's affiliated businesses, including Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network, HM Insurance Group, United Concordia Dental, and HM Health Solutions.

One of the nation's most influential and transformative health care executives, Holmberg is helping to shape the future of this fast-evolving industry. He has proactively and regularly engaged with trade associations, regulators, peer organizations, strategic partners, and government entities — both regional and national — to resolve critical health care issues and ensure the equitable treatment of Highmark Health's patients, policyholders, and business customers. Under Holmberg's leadership in 2016, Highmark Health sued the U.S. government in federal claims court, demanding that the government live up to the funding promises that were outlined within the Affordable Care Act.

Guiding Highmark Health through the tumultuous post-ACA years may have been Holmberg's biggest challenge as CEO, but there have been other critical business issues to address — including the remarkable turnaround of Allegheny Health Network, which was nearing bankruptcy when it was acquired by Highmark Inc. in 2013. In addition to delivering ten consecutive quarters of positive operating income, the health delivery system has expanded to include nine hospitals in western Pennsylvania, as well as five multi-specialty medical malls. In 2019, Holmberg successfully negotiated an agreement with the Pennsylvania Attorney General to provide residents of western Pennsylvania with continued access to the region's two leading health systems.

Highmark Health also delivered record revenues in 2017 and 2018, as Holmberg implemented a bold transformation strategy designed to lead the change in the health care experience for consumers by providing affordable, accessible, high-quality, community-based medicine and coverage options. Because of Highmark Health's differentiated position in the industry as a vertically integrated payer-provider, and his own unconventional path to leadership, Holmberg has a unique perspective and insight into the full scope of the health care continuum — from private insurance to government and military insurance to medical, dental, and vision care.

Current Board of Director affiliations include:

  • Chairman, Highmark Inc., the Blue-branded health insurance affiliate of Highmark Health
  • Chairman, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA)
  • America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)
  • Allegheny Health Network
  • The Allegheny Conference on Community Development
  • The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Thought Leadership Topics:

Unlike many of his peers, who are tenured doctors or career health care executives, Holmberg is applying his retail industry expertise and proven customer-centric concepts to the health care experience — all designed to disrupt the industry by delivering lower cost, higher quality care on consumers' terms.

The Patient Health Experience

  • Not just treatment, but how consumers/patients are treated during their health care journey.
  • How consumers can become more engaged in their own health.
  • How caregivers can be freed to focus on supporting them.

The Inevitable Health Care Revolution

  • There will be a revolution if we do something OR if we don't — consumers demand it.
  • Success is no longer just about access and pricing. Health care leaders must differentiate through delivering a robust, seamless customer/caregiver experience.
  • There is an imperative to build a better end-to-end system and experience that has the flexibility to serve multiple customer segments on their terms.

Making Allies out of Adversaries

  • To truly succeed in changing health care, everyone needs to work together.
  • Partnerships vs. M&A: Highmark Health doesn't need to own everything — Highmark Health partnerships include Emerus, Penn State Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Geisinger, among others.
  • Aligning incentives and improving data aggregation, analytics, and insights to customize or individualize care interventions.

Interviews/Articles:

Washington Post Live, May 2018: The Future of an Evolving Industry
“I would say the biggest challenge is the health care system was built in a model that was based on past need. And the world has changed. I think the biggest challenge in health care is recognizing that we can — it's no longer about us, it's got to be about them. It's got to be about the people that we serve. And meaning, we need to have a retail mindset where we understand what motivates that individual, how do we connect with them, and then how do we provide them the services and capabilities that fit their lifestyle and their choices?”

Bloomberg Opinion Editorial, June 2019: if Uncle Sam's Word Is No Good, Whose Is?
“‘You shouldn't have trusted us' is the last message our government should be sending if it wishes to continue to attract the private sector to participate in bold and significant federal programs, projects, and contracts; particularly new or innovative ones that pose substantial risks. If such a “buyer beware” environment is permitted to prevail, the consequences may be dire.”

Modern Healthcare, December 2017: Q&A with Highmark Health CEO: New model of care should lead to lower hospital utilization
“Affordability is about dealing with the real issue, which is the cost of care and how care is consumed. I think we would all agree that if we can create better access to care and give more people the ability to have health care, that's a good thing, but at what price? So I think what we're doing is providing a bridge for the government, a bridge for employers, and a bridge for individuals to start finding that sweet spot where you can give access and create that, but you also make it more affordable.”

Forbes, May 2016: Meet the Man Who Might Just Save Obamacare from Collapsing
“I don't know if Mr. Holmberg is a Democrat or Republican, for Obamacare or against it, but his action to force the government to make good on its promise could possibly save Obamacare from collapsing. It is a profile in corporate courage.”

Highmark Health Straight from the CEO Blog Series: