HEALTH BENEFITS

Colombia 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jaime González Montaño, General Manager of Coosalud, on the importance of developing its people, opportunities to invest in healthcare, and its goals for the coming year.

Jaime González Montaño
BIOGRAPHY
Jaime González Montaño studied management, economics, and finance at Los Andes University He has been the General Manager of Coosalud since 1994 when the company was created. Previously he was at the Social Security Institute of Bolívar. He also has a degree in dentistry from the University of Cartagena and an MBA from Miami University.

Coosalud is one of the largest insurance companies in Colombia and a top-ranked health promoting company (EPS) according to the Ministry of Health. How did it gain its leadership position?

We are a cooperative company—in other words, a non-profit organization. Coosalud has grown exponentially in numbers; however, our most important asset is people. Developing our human capital has really translated into huge gains. Our main objective is to help the poor population in Colombia. One of the primary things we do in the health insurance industry is evaluate people's risk in order to minimize their threats. As a result, we have improved people's health by reducing deaths because of foreseeable diseases. To develop our people, we have implemented certain programs to boost happiness at work, not only with competitive salaries, but also by giving people plenty of reasons to be proud. Being a part of an organization that is socially and environmentally responsible makes our employees feel satisfied. If our employees are happy at work, people with sickness and diseases will receive better and more humane service. This has allowed us to achieve two milestones. First, our affiliates chose us as the best EPS in Colombia, and second, we were chosen by “Great Place to Work" as one of the top-10 companies to work for in Latin America.

How would you assess the economic and social impact that Coosalud has had on the Caribbean region?

The Caribbean coast is one of the most underdeveloped areas in Colombia. The poverty rate is high compared to other regions and it is an area where the rural population has few economic resources. Therefore, our strategy to focus on poor people has allowed many of them access to healthcare services. As a result, we have steadily reduced the mortality rates in that region and increased people's chances of employment. We also directly employ about 900 people. In addition, Coosalud has been one of the best EPS in terms of implementing the government policy to supply health services to remote areas with the poorest people, reducing mortality and morbidity indicators and allowing people to be more productive and find better jobs.

What foreign investment opportunities are there in Colombia's healthcare sector?

There is a huge opportunity because the healthcare system still requires more capital to stabilize its finances. There are currently 14 beds for every 10,000 inhabitants. However, 18 of the 45 best hospitals in Latin America are Colombian. Many international groups such as Sanitas have already invested in the country. The international interest in this sector demonstrates its huge opportunities. Colombia spends a large amount of money on healthcare, which should mainly come from the government. This large sum should be attractive for investors.

What opportunities will result from Colombia's peace agreement?

It will certainly benefit foreign investors because rebel groups like FARC were a hazard for them. This post-conflict atmosphere will also generate a great opportunity to invest in all those under-developed areas where the rebel groups were previously present. In our sector, new hospitals and health centers will certainly be built in these regions. In the end, Colombia has a great opportunity to grow, and investors are welcome here. What is more, we also seek to join the OECD, and investors could look at the country as a real star in the global economy.

What are your remaining goals for 2017?

We are searching for a partner to provide us with the equity we need to grow in this sector. We have about 8% of the affiliates in the subsidized regimen over the country, and about 3% in the total industry. Our goal is to grow in both and penetrate the contributory scheme, where we are currently not active. We also want to improve our risk management programs to make an impact on our people's health. Our goal is to become a national and international standard in the health insurance industry.