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  • Writer's pictureGene Preston

Be Willing and Constant

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

I am grateful and fortunate for my career path. I started my career as a health insurance claims adjudicator for the State of West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency while I was attending Marshall University. I worked from 3:00 till midnight Monday through Friday and attended my classes at Marshall University from 8:00 am till 1:30 pm. The experienced gained paying medical claims, allowed me to earn an internship with Ernst & Young performing audits of ERISA health plans. The internship turned into a full time position in the firms insurance practice. I worked on insurance company clients going through acquisitions and/or placed in receivership. I managed clients for multiple offices around the country with insurance concerns in Ohio and West Virginia.

I left Ernst & Young and took a job with one of my client's, the West Virginia Hospital Association, which owned an insurance company we assisted in selling. The West Virginia Hospital Association allowed me to work with CEOs of the hospitals in West Virginia at a very young age. I enjoyed the fact that my limited experience, at that time, was valuable to them. Soon after, I became a partner in a third party claims administrator and insurance brokerage firm. My experience, gave me an edge on creating health benefit plans that were unique and offered employers real savings. The experience gained from these endeavors led me to starting an off-shore malpractice insurance solution, running a publicly traded health insurance company and a consulting Principal with two national healthcare consulting firms.

During these experiences, I often ran into a gentleman, by the name of Monte Ward, who was the Chief Financial Officer of Cabell Huntington Hospital. The first time we met was when I was working for the Hospital Association and at a meeting at the one of the state agencies. This is the gentleman, many years later, convinced me to work for him at his hospital and who I consider a mentor and friend. He has taught me to relax, even though it took him 10 years to do it. He likes to bet cigars and he doesn't usually bet unless he knows he will win. I lost many cigars to him, well sort of, but that's another story. Nonetheless, Monte brought me into the organization and I worked my way up to Vice President of Managed Care, Physician Services and Pharmacy Operations at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

You don't know how valuable experience is until you have a little!

Now we stand at a place where major changes in healthcare are unfolding and we are on the cusp of possible major reform. I greet the uncertainty as an opportunity to learn and grow. My journey has allowed me to see healthcare from every possible non-clinical angle. The Hospital, the provider, the insurance company, the employer, the regulators and alternative offshore markets. Synchronicity is the only word that I can use to describe my journey.

The truth is, it not superior intellect that puts you in good positions, or some sort of magic or luck. It is the fact that you show up everyday willing to try and learn something new. Sometimes it is the pure ignorance of committing to something, without knowing how difficult it is going to be, and not giving up after realizing the odds are against you. I hope I never lose my willingness to take risks and try new approaches in an ever changing healthcare environment.

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