As a child, Kevin Nelson, M.P.H. ’92, didn’t dream of growing up to be a health care administrator; in fact, he envisioned himself as a doctor. But 18 years out of college, he loves his job running a managed-care plan that provides government-subsidized health insurance for 40,000 New Yorkers who would otherwise probably go without insurance. As COO of Health-Source/Hudson Health Plan, which has members in Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties, he sees one of his company’s roles as nudging the United States closer to universal health coverage.
In part because he had a sister with cerebral palsy, Nelson began college intent on going to medical school and becoming a neurologist. He enrolled in science courses, worked in a hospital and played a role in the premed society and student government at the University of Pittsburgh. Nelson gradually realized that he liked running organizations more than he liked medicine, and he decided to wed his interests in health care and business. He worked in a community health center in New Jersey and then a large public hospital in Atlanta before going to Yale to study health policy and management.
During his 10 years at Health-Source, Nelson has watched the company grow from 19 to 200 employees. One of his company’s goals has been to advocate for legislation that would streamline the state-mandated enrollment and re-enrollment process for uninsured individuals. Re-enrollment, or “recertification,” is required annually for individuals and families who obtain their health insurance through Medicaid and other government-subsidized programs. He calls the application process “a nightmare … If you’re missing a piece of paper, you’re terminated.” HealthSource joined with similar organizations, successfully backing legislation that will simplify the certification process. “All the advocacy we’re doing is with an eye toward universal health insurance. It’s the only way,” he said. Nelson lives in Westchester County with his 1-year-old daughter, Cherie, and 7-year-old son, Adam Philip.