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June 13, 2012

"We will either find a way or make one."

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There are different ways to exercise leadership. There is the Conan the Barbarian approach, “What is best in life? To crush your enemies - - See them driven before you and to hear the lamentation of their women.” And then there is the Jack Welch (former GE CEO) approach, “When the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside the end is near.”

When it comes to health care reform there is the Barack Obama approach (read Obamacare) where the federal government is going to force you through legislative fiat to do something that you may or may not want to do and then there is the corporate culture approach of doing something because it is the right thing to do given the changes in the environment that are moving in that direction.

So we can note with interest as reported in the Wall Street Journal on June 12th, the announcements by three major health insurers (Humana, Aetna and UnitedHealth Group) that regardless of what the US Supreme Court says about the constitutionality of Obamacare that they will continue to allow children up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ policies, continue to provide preventive benefits like immunizations without consumer out-of-pocket costs and provide third party appeals of coverage denials.

United and Humana went as far as saying they would continue the ban on lifetime maximum benefits. In other words they found the rate of change on the outside was exceeding the rate of change on the inside. So they adapted.

What this proves is that the method of leadership and approach you take is at least as important as the actual change that is made. You can encourage and get agreement on change if the change agent is convinced that it is in their best interest.

Oh, some will suggest that without Obamacare those companies never would have made those changes. Yet on the other hand when resolution can be made that can keep the provider on the leading edge of public policy and our government leaders can migrate them rather than bludgeon them to that conclusion they may be willing to incorporate reasonable changes into their own operation. Lyndon Johnson would have referred to it as declaring victory and going home.

Or as Hannibal Burca said, “We will either find a way or make one.”

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