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MVP Health Care names new leader

MVP Health Care names new leader

Del Vecchio will replace Gonick as CEO of Schenectady-based health insurer
MVP Health Care names new leader
Christopher Del Vecchio
Photographer: Photo provided

SCHENECTADY — MVP Health Care’s president will be its next chief executive officer.

The Schenectady-based health insurer on Wednesday announced that Christopher Del Vecchio will succeed CEO Denise Gonick, who announced her resignation last week. The promotion is effective Sept. 1.

Del Vecchio has been with MVP since 2014 — first as its executive vice president of strategy and innovation, then as its chief operating officer. A year ago, he was named president as well as COO.

MVP is one of the largest private-sector employers based in the Capital Region, with 1,700 employees, half of them at the downtown Schenectady headquarters. It provides health insurance for more than 700,000 people and recorded $3.4 billion in revenue in 2018.

Del Vecchio told The Daily Gazette on Wednesday he has been part of MVP’s decision-making team for several years, so he doesn’t expect to make any big changes in direction or policy. 

“You won’t see us crashing our strategy or doing something different,” he said. “For us it’s about growth.”

MVP has grown organically and through acquisitions to the point that it has members in every New York county north of New York City and all counties in Vermont, he said. He predicts further expansion of its market and its coverage portfolio, perhaps through additional acquisitions.

Del Vecchio, 53, and his wife, Sara, live in Guilderland and have two grown sons.

He was born and raised in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood of Schenectady. He recalls as a small boy waiting at the mouth of the General Electric employee tunnel for his dad get out of work, then walking home with him up the Crane Street hill.

He went on to attend Albany School of Pharmacy and then Union Graduate College.

Del Vecchio pursued the first degree, in pharmacy, because he wanted to help people. He pursued the second, an MBA specialized in health systems, because he wanted to help more people.

“I really liked helping people,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference in more people’s lives and make a difference in health care.”

Del Vecchio was a working pharmacist for a year after graduation then a few more years while earning the MBA, then founded and ran Centrus, a pharmacy benefit management company. PBMs are third-party administrators of prescription plans, and one of Centrus’ clients was MVP.

Del Vecchio eventually sold Centrus, then founded Catalyst One, a healthcare consulting firm that he has exited since moving to MVP.

Along with its growth in membership and revenue in recent years, MVP has steadied its finances. After recording losses in the half-percent range for a couple of years, the insurer has been in the black since 2015. Its margin was just over 1 percent in 2018. It’s a non-profit but maintains a reserve fund that allows it to meet unexpected expenses or float a single-year loss.

Nonetheless, Del Vecchio said, “We do work on a very thin margin.”

As such there are multiple moving targets that could alter MVP’s finances: Republicans in Washington trying to get rid of Obamacare, Democrats in Albany seeking to create a single-payer system, continually rising health care costs, large national insurers seeking a piece of the market, and consumers expecting more and better coverage.

“That’s kind of the backdrop, those are the things that I think about,” Del Vecchio said. “It’s not the one big thing, it’s the sum of the little things.”

(Single-payer health-care — administered by the state and funded with state taxes — wouldn’t be a little thing, he concedes.)

“I think about those things but at the same time I think of our members,” Del Vecchio said. A majority of Americans don’t have money saved for unexpected medical expenses, he explained, and it is MVP’s mission to help members stay healthy while protecting them from those costs.

The organization is, he believes, large enough to have influence but small enough to be agile and adjust to whatever changes await the healthcare industry.

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