The Minnesota and Dakotas health plan is still in its infancy, launching less than two years ago, and for Minnesota native Brett Edelson, this represents a unique opportunity to grow UnitedHealthcare’s footprint in its home state.
Brett was named the CEO for the Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota markets earlier this summer. With more than 15 years of experience at UnitedHealthcare, he has held a variety of leadership roles and most recently served as a senior vice president with UnitedHealthcare Community & State, the company’s Medicaid line of business.
A longtime resident of the Twin Cities, Brett is deeply engaged in the community and serves on several Minnesota-based boards, including the Hennepin Health Foundation and Close Gaps by 5, a local nonprofit championing the use of targeted early education to close achievement gaps. Additionally, he is a mentor at Techstars, a national start-up accelerator.
Brett recently shared his thoughts about his new role.
What are your responsibilities and goals in this position?
My highest priority is to continue to build strong relationships with our UnitedHealthcare members, employers, care providers and brokers across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. To achieve this, one of my most important responsibilities is to maintain a collaborative and inclusive culture at our health plan.
I am honored to lead UnitedHealthcare’s business in its home state and I look forward to continuing to build relationships in our community.
What keeps you up at night?
Our health plan has a tremendous opportunity to grow the UnitedHealthcare presence in our market. Although it is a “good problem,” I would say my concern with this growth is to ensure that we successfully implement each of these new opportunities, while continuing to maintain our responsiveness and nimbleness as a growth-focused health plan.
What is your leadership style?
I strive each day to apply the principles of “Our United Culture” and to live our values. One of the principles in particular that I focus on, is the results cone, specifically on how my thinking ultimately leads to results. Also, I continually challenge myself by asking, “What more can I do each day to be a better leader and colleague?”
What has impressed you about UnitedHealthcare since taking this role?
The other health plan CEOs and the national and regional leaders have been incredibly helpful with their feedback, advice and support. They have helped to make the transition very smooth.
What is the most recent book you read and why?
As part of a UnitedHealthcare cohort, I have been going through the Master of Healthcare Delivery Science program at Dartmouth College, so most of my reading lately is part of that program. We have read and discussed some fascinating cases about the delivery system and how social issues impact health care.
What do you do in your spare time away from the office?
My wife and I have three boys in elementary school and we just added a puppy to our family. I also have the opportunity to serve on a few boards for Minnesota-based organizations.
Favorite spot for lunch or dinner in the Twin Cities?
There are so many to choose from! If I had to pick one, it would be Tilia in Linden Hills.
Edelson received his master’s degree in business from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington University in St. Louis. He, his wife Heather and three sons live in Edina.