Downtime with Andy McCulloch, President, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the NW

Andy McCulloch talks about work and play.

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What I’m reading

The biography of Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash: The Life, by Robert Hilburn. Hilburn is a music critic for The Los Angeles Times and was there when Johnny Cash performed his famous concert at Folsom Prison in 1968. As a fan of music history, I am enjoying this fascinating story about a true American icon.

Latest download

Waze — have you driven in Portland lately?

What I’m watching

I recently caught myself in TV Land viewing old episodes of The Carol Burnett Show. This timeless series was really well done — so funny, irresistible to watch and taped live, which you hardly see anymore. I also loved Tim Conway’s character and think he is one of the most gifted comedians in terms of physical comedy and timing.

No place like …

Paris, because of the beauty, art and food.

Business role model

I always looked up to Greg Van Pelt, who led Providence here in Portland and Seattle. He is a highly effective, value-based leader. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with Greg on a number of different initiatives, and he’s been a greatly influential mentor for me.

When I’m not working

I love to cook. It’s a great stress reliever. I am continuously trying to expand my repertoire. On the weekends, I like to go to our local farmers markets, see what’s in season and bring ingredients home to create healthy new recipes from the incredible abundance of veggies, fruits, meats and more. It’s really a gift to take advantage of all the food opportunities we have in the Northwest.

What’s your take on the collapse of so many insurance companies in the past year?

There hasn’t been a collapse. There are a couple of co-ops that have dissolved, but the challenge for the health insurance industry is to learn to price the risk in the marketplace. When you don’t know what the risk is, you price accordingly. A lot of insurers out of the gate on the Affordable Care Act had no idea what the risk was, so they should have thought of it as a yellow light, not green.

Advice for young people

Look for an organization that ties closely to your own personal values and social mission. Don’t hesitate to take risks on working on startups or new, inventive ways of delivering health care in cost-effective, high-quality ways. We haven’t quite solved that problem yet and need a lot of good, young thinking to bring about change.

It’s your 10th anniversary at KP. Where would you like to see the organization in another 10 years?

Kaiser Permanente is now the Northwest’s highest-rated health care system in quality and service, as measured by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, Medicare, J.D. Power and others. We’re also the most affordable option on state exchanges. I hope we continue to build on that leadership legacy of quality, service and affordability. I’d also like Kaiser Permanente to remain on the forefront of dealing with health-equity issues by offering better care for the mentally ill and reducing health disparities in communities of color and other populations in the Northwest.

Vacation days

My oldest daughter and I had the pleasure of traveling to Cambodia and Vietnam in May. The memorable element was touring Ho Chi Minh City [aka Saigon] from a motorized scooter. We got to experience incredible street food, but we learned not to ask what we were eating.