AHIP's John Mathewson is shaping the association's strategic planning, focus on equity


John Mathewson, Chief Operating Officer, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)

Age: 61

Education: He earned a master’s in health services administration from George Washington University with a concentration in policy, planning and marketing. He has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Howard University.

About him: Mathewson serves as chief of staff, head of business operations, and helps to drive AHIP’s strategic planning. Before joining the association in 2018, he held several leadership roles for a variety of healthcare groups including health insurance providers, hospital and home care companies. He also served as executive vice president of strategy and operation for the HSC Foundation & Health Care System, an integrated health system and health plan for young people with disabilities. In addition, he had roles at Cigna and Kaiser Permanente in commercial markets and national accounts.

Today, he’s shaping AHIP’s focus on equity and diversity, impacting the nearly 1 million employees and millions of patients served by AHIP members. “Forget incrementalism and try to go legendary by putting on your cape, turning on your superpowers, and those of others,” he said.

In the last year, he helped lead AHIP’s Project Link, a social determinants of health program that outlines best practices for the health insurance industry. In addition, he expedited turning the annual AHIP Institute & Expo 2020 into a full virtual format due to COVID-19 and expanded association webinar offerings.

First job: “After college, I worked in the clinical laboratory as a medical technologist before moving into marketing, and, later, management. I had a great boss and many others who sponsored me along the way.”

Accomplishment he’s most proud of: “First and foremost, being a husband, and the dad of an awesome daughter who is a scholar athlete.” Also, he said, he's groomed multiple direct report leaders that later ascended to the C-suite and top leadership roles.

Problem he’s most passionate about trying to solve: “Generating a vibrant economy based on the social determinants of health in the midst of COVID and major unemployment across the nation. Also, ensuring that there is diverse leadership in healthcare across boards, C-suites, the larger workforce, and suppliers to help create a more equitable healthcare system.”

Book he recommends: Authentic Leadership by Bill George. “This book is one of many a leader needs and it’s even more relevant now as leaders must rely on their deep, personal resolve to successfully address COVID-19 and pervasive health inequities," he said.

Advice he would you give his younger self: “Dream bigger. Dreams are 100% free and you can never fail. Find your life’s work and learn to laugh a lot. Try to do something legendary, at least once," he said.

What he’d do with his career if it wasn’t this: He said he can’t imagine a career that didn’t follow his desire to impact millions of people in a positive way. He’d like to serve as a venture capitalist that does something industry changing, such as creating a new category or sector that further helps stimulate and grow the social determinants of health economy. “It’s inclusive and equitable throughout its infrastructure and redefines health as a better resource for living. It reaches urban streets, main streets, cul de sacs, and dirt roads.”

Advice he’d give to healthcare leaders seeking to make a real impact on the systemic problems of racism: “Start with personal courage and resolve. It’s impossible to emphasize enough how deeply strong leadership matters for this work. Find your greatest authenticity and use your courage to hear, learn and act decisively. Be brutally honest and act boldly, overcoming your fears.”

He also emphasizes that the journey takes everyone in the room, so make allies from every spectrum. “We all know it’s a marathon and won’t be fixed today or tomorrow, but start anyway and find the fuel to not stop.”

AHIP's John Mathewson is shaping the association's strategic planning, focus on equity