Jeff Bernhard, President of Highmark


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Jeff Bernhard may seem like your typical corporate executive. He was formerly the President of Continental Benefits, and Senior Vice President at the health insurance megalith, Aetna, where he spent much of his lengthy career in healthcare. And for an industry that is just beginning to unravel for lack of improvements in actual health, it’s executives like Jeff that are becoming the voice of reason in healthcare.

Now, as President of Commercial Markets at Highmark, Jeff still makes time for his passion for gardening, growing his own food, and sharing his experiences on his YouTube channel, The Executive Gardener. He also hosts a healthcare industry podcast called Friends with Benefits.

Beyond just insights in being a healthcare industry expert, Jeff is extremely in touch with nature. He understands the importance of wellness and wellbeing. And he is contributing to moving a giant needle in a giant syringe of an industry.

In this conversation, you’ll learn about what the healthcare industry knows has gone wrong and how people like Jeff are trying to correct it. You’ll learn about food deserts and why they really shouldn’t exist – he talks about a fantastic solution to this huge problem. And you’ll also hear about his take on health and wellness.

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Topics discussed in this conversation include:

  • How did you end up working in healthcare?

  • What do you love about working for these huge insurance corporations?

  • What are some of the challenges?

  • What are some of your entrepreneurial side projects?

  • What inspired you to start your Executive Gardener Channel?

  • "Living to work instead of working to live.”

  • Disease epidemics

  • Plant based diets and how they are impacting the healthcare industry

  • Do you think our current healthcare industry is structured around people being sick instead of empowering thriving health?

  • How are healthcare companies structuring incentives towards wellness?

  • Food Deserts - what are they, what are your thoughts on them, and how can we fix this problem?

  • What are the biggest health issues humanity needs to be wary of?

  • How can businesses benefit from becoming aware of these trends?

  • What makes businesses and leaders successful?

  • How do you measure Success?

  • Do you have a regular ritual or mindfulness practice that keeps you focused?

  • Where do you see the world in 5 years from now and how do you see yourself and your business contributing to it?

  • Valuable advise to share with other entrepreneurs building businesses today


Before joining Continental Benefits, Jeff spent 21 years at Aetna, where he held numerous senior leadership roles during his tenure. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President, responsible for the Public Sector and Labor Union markets in two-thirds of the United States. Jeff’s main focus at Aetna centered on providing innovative healthcare and benefit solution for his clients.

Under Jeff's leadership, Continental Benefits is demonstrating to employers how the confluence of health care innovation, savings, creativity and superior customer service can be provided through one company. In fact, we are laser focused on redefining the industry standard for what employers, and other entities that offer coverage, should always expect.

Jeff is an active participant in many national leadership groups focused on innovative delivery models, health care reform strategies, total cost management and more effective methods to bend the medical trend curve. Jeff is heavily involved in community activities and sits on several Boards with healthcare related companies.

Jeff graduated from Shippensburg University with a BSBA in Business Marketing. He has an MBA from University of Phoenix in Scottsdale, Arizona. He currently lives in Houston, Texas, with his wife of 17 years and their two daughters.

30 episodes