In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of George Halvorson.
This profile was published in the December, 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
"I told the board that what I've been doing in healthcare, and for the past 30 years, has been a warm-up for what I need to do next."
George Halvorson says he's been preparing for this for 30 years: the next chapter of his life after his role as chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente.
He left his post as CEO on July 1, and steps down as chairman on Dec. 31 as head of a $55 billion annual revenue health plan and provider network with 9 million enrollees, 190,000 employees, which includes 16,000 physicians, and more than 600 medical facilities in eight states plus the District of Columbia. He will be 67 in January and, after 11 years with Kaiser Permanente, he says it's time.
"But I'm definitely not going into retirement mode," he says.
He's chairing the First 5 California commission, which uses state tobacco tax money to give children a better educational start. He says that children with low reading levels by the third grade are 80% more likely to end up in jail at age 18, 40% more likely to get pregnant, and 60% more likely to drop out of school than children with better literacy skills.