Storytelling: Charlie Montreuil

Storytelling: Charlie Montreuil

When Charlie Montreuil first became involved with the Minnesota Health Action Group* in1997, he did so as Vice President of HR at Carlson Companies alongside health care benefits legend, Dee Kemnitz. He now serves as an Action Group board member and is vice president, enterprise rewards and corporate HR, for Best Buy.

“We are at a crossroads and it’s time to renew the importance of the employer purchaser. By banding together, we form a critical mass of employers driving essential marketplace change.”

“Through the Action Group, Dee and her colleagues were pioneers in creating new ways for employers to provide health care coverage, which included the first-ever direct contracting with care systems,” Charlie says. “She was one of the leaders in establishing an environment that caused health care providers to compete for business, resulting in more predictable costs, greater efficiencies, and more accountability.”

For many Minnesotans, The Action Group is synonymous with the Choice Plus health plan. At a time when costs were rising precipitously and the health care marketplace was becoming more and more complex, Action Group members took the bold and unprecedented step of creating their own health plan that enabled employers and consumers to choose providers based on cost and quality.

“I think all of us who were involved in growing the Choice Plus product are proud that there are some elements of it, such as risk adjustment and competition, that permeate the national marketplace today,” says Charlie. “As the product morphed and grew, we ultimately decided to sell it to Medica, so they could take it to the next level and make it accessible to employers of all sizes. It also allowed us to get back to the business of creating transferable ideas.”

When asked what he has found to be most compelling about belonging to The Action Group, Charlie lists the following:

“As we enter another new health care era, we need to focus particularly on building a more productive workforce by promoting prevention and rewarding providers who deliver outstanding care. Employees don’t leave their issues at the door when they come to work. By forcing change in the system and promoting competition we are able to improve employee productivity and engagement.”
  • Having the ability to dialogue with other people in this profession to share ideas. “The camaraderie and ability to call on colleagues to help solve day-to-day issues is invaluable.”
  • Helping drive accountability among hospitals to improve patient safety by ensuring that every year hospital systems and health plans report so-called “never” mistakes.
  • Working to create transparency in the marketplace by mining data that enables employers and consumers to choose care based on cost and quality measures.
  • Creating a national data cooperative with Towers Watson that was not tied to any health plan, allowing us to share information widely and create greater transparency.
  • Uniting with employers state-wide to use our collective voice to influence providers and politicians.
  • Developing a pay-for-performance component within Minnesota Bridges to Excellence, whereby purchasers support quality improvement by rewarding best-in-class clinics and doctors.

“The vision at The Action Group has always gone way beyond providing health care benefits to employees,” says Charlie. “It’s about creating a healthy environment across the state to improve the mental, financial, physical and emotional well-being of every citizen which, in turn, improves the economic vitality of every community.”

Charlie sees uncovering opportunities to optimize technology as key to existing and upcoming Action Group initiatives. “When people access health care services, they need and deserve to know what to expect in terms of cost and quality…and they should all have on-the-spot access to personal health information, e-learning tools, and tele-medicine. Creating a public atmosphere that encourages all of us to maximize health will be an important part of The Action Group’s work going forward.”


*Formerly known as the Buyers Health Care Action Group

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