5 minutes with…Cathy Harvey


Cathy Harvey

Chief executive officer, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement in Wisconsin

Credit Lila Aryan Photography

Cathy Harvey joined UnitedHealthcare in April to lead its Medicare & Retirement division in Wisconsin, a role in which she oversees the delivery of Medicare plans to about 275,000 seniors and other beneficiaries.

UnitedHealthcare has the largest Medicare HMO enrollment in the state, growing from 76,100 in 2012 to 114,000 in 2016.

Medicare Advantage plans have proved profitable for companies like UnitedHealthcare. And with about 39 percent of Wisconsin beneficiaries now in a Medicare Advantage plan, the potential for future growth is strong.

In a recent interview with BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Lauren Anderson, Harvey discussed her new role and UnitedHealthcare’s growth.

The effect of aging baby boomers

“Our business continues to grow as a result. Nationally, the growth in Medicare Advantage plans over the last five years has been 46 percent, so it’s causing a huge growth in the Medicare Advantage industry. Over 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. Nationally, it’s a huge movement of people entering Medicare as the baby boomers age in.

There’s also a major shift away from traditional Medicare coverage and into Medicare Advantage plans because they offer more predictability on cost and additional benefits. They have a flat out-of-pocket limit, meaning that’s the most you would pay any given year.”

Customer experience

“We have a very large market share here in Milwaukee and people really rely on us … We provide people choice. We have a pretty full array of products that meets their budget needs and their network needs. People like that. We have really superior customer service. We monitor and measure that very closely. We have a very high number in Wisconsin of people who would recommend UnitedHealthcare to their friends. They trust us to help them make the right choice.”

Open enrollment advice

“We had a survey this year: One in four people said going through the open enrollment process was worse than losing their cellphone. It’s something everyone can relate to. So that’s what we try to help people with.

What we want beneficiaries to understand is there are three things they should keep in mind as they shop: choice, care and experience. We know that health care is not one-size-fits-all so it’s important to understand your choice. It’s important to check if the current coverage still meets your needs, based on the new benefits and premiums”

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