The First 100 Days as CEO of Menzis

The First 100 Days as CEO of Menzis
‘Not a popular role,’ says Wouter Bos about his first hundred days as CEO of Coöperatie Menzis.

Who: Wouter Bos
What: Sinds 1 May CEO and Chair of the Board of Coöperatie Menzis

After you left your position as Chair of the Board of VU University Medical Centre, you took over the reins at Invest-NL. What prompted your return to the healthcare industry?
‘First of all because it went so well the last time. The Invest-NL world, however interesting and urgent due to all the climate issues, did not fascinate and affect me as much as healthcare, where you sometimes literally deal with matters of life and death and countless complex ethical, social and organizational issues are at play. This was a golden opportunity for me to return to this world. In the position of health insurer, I am on the other side of the table which provides learning opportunities. This is important too.’


How did your onboarding go?
It proved to be more difficult than I expected. Usually, I find my way in a new organization by walking around the different departments, shaking hands, chatting to people... But since a lot of people were still working from home, the corridors were empty, and I could not get to know many people in a short period. I found this frustrating and it still is somewhat of a struggle.’

As 'well-known Dutchman', how do you ensure that you remain accessible to your employees?
‘I know from experience that prominence can create barriers. I can only break down those barriers by showing that I find them irrelevant. I accept every invitation to a workplace with both hands and I also vlog regularly. I respond to personal messages and emails and generally try to keep as little distance as possible. I cautiously believe that it is working.’

What lessons from your previous positions did you bring with you to this new role?
‘In the past healthcare agreements aimed at slowing expenditure growth while continuing to provide all existing care by working more efficiently and effectively. At VU University Medical Centre, I experienced what that means, such as ever-increasing beds per nurse with less time per patient. Resources have been stretched to their limits, so that can no longer be the solution. It is fairer to make painful decisions about the organization of care, such as an efficient division of tasks between hospitals or the concentration of complex medical procedures in a few locations across the Netherlands. As a Menzis director, I want to play an active role in this debate in order to keep healthcare affordable. That is not necessarily a popular role, but someone must take it on.’

As a newcomer to the world of health insurers, what challenges do you see?
‘Figures show the level of the monthly premium to be the main reason why people switch insurers. In fact, the risk equalization system should ensure that the “more expensive” insurers, who invest in prevention or provide care to people with greater health risks, are rewarded or compensated. In practice, the best results are achieved by insurers who can offer low premiums because they focus on young, healthy people. There is a perversity in the way in which the market seems to work.  We undoubtedly need to address this.’

This short interview was published in Management Scope 10 2022, as part of the regular 'Coming & Going' section.

This article was last changed on 23-11-2022