EDITOR’S NOTE: Cheryl DeMars, president and CEO of The Alliance, took the stage at Disrupt Madison to talk about the power of employers to “disrupt” health care to create positive change. Cheryl’s remarks drew enthusiastic applause from the sold-out crowd at the June 7 event. This transcript was drawn from Cheryl’s notes and may vary from her final wording. 

Watch the Presentation

We are excited to be part of Disrupt Madison because if there is one thing that needs disrupting, it’s health care!

Raise your hand if you get your health insurance from your employer or your spouse’s employer.

Keep your hands up if you think health care costs too much…

(almost every hand in the room was raised)….

Looks like it’s unanimous!

At The Alliance, we believe the most promising – and underutilized – force for change in health care is the employer community.

Did you know that employers buy the majority of health care in Wisconsin?

Did you know that at least 1/3 of what we spend on health care is waste? That’s due to tests and procedures that aren’t needed and complications that could have been avoided.

Did you know there are incredible differences in the price for even common, elective procedures?

Right here, in Madison Wisconsin, you pay $4,000 more – or $4,000 less – for knee arthroscopy depending on whether you make a right turn or left turn off an elevator. Turn right and you’ll pay about $8,000 for it. Turn left and you’ll pay about $12,000.

What if we, as employers, started buying health care differently?

What if we insisted on knowing the price and the quality of health care before we buy it? What if we shared that information with our employees? What if we used that information to send our business to doctors and hospitals with better outcomes and lower costs?

I believe in the power of employers to make a difference in health care. I’ve seen it work in our cooperative!

Let’s commit to do our part to disrupt health care. We owe it to our employees, our companies and to the health care system that won’t – that can’t – change fast enough without us.

Cheryl DeMars

Cheryl DeMars

President & CEO at The Alliance
Cheryl DeMars joined The Alliance in 1992, assuming several roles before becoming CEO in December 2006. Cheryl works with the Board of Directors and senior leadership team to establish the strategic direction of the cooperative.

Cheryl participates in a number of national and regional initiatives that align with The Alliance’s mission of controlling costs, improving quality and engaging individuals in their health. She is a board member and former chair of the National Business Coalition on Health. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the board of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality.

Prior to joining The Alliance, Cheryl was a program manager at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Read blog posts by Cheryl.
Cheryl DeMars

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