Imagine sitting home and learning Fortune magazine just listed you among the world’s greatest leaders? That’s exactly what happened to Marilyn Bartlett, who led the effort to save Montana’s state employee health insurance plan from bankruptcy.
In April, Bartlett was ranked No. 16 on a list which featured global leaders including Bill and Melinda Gates, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Michael J. Fox and Apple’s Tim Cook.
“Our sixth annual leaders list is the home of the brave,” Fortune wrote. “These thinkers, speakers, and doers make bold choices and take big risks — and move others to do the same.”
When Bartlett took over the Montana employee health plan in 2014, the state spent $200 million a year to cover its 30,000 employees and their families. The plan’s losses were projected to top $50 million and state officials predicted it would go broke without radical changes. By the time she departed the plan was on solid footing and the state was saving millions without cutting benefits to employees or raising their rates.
Bartlett came with some unique qualifications. She had just spent 13 years on the insurance industry side, first as a controller for Montana’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, then as the chief financial officer for a company that administered benefits.