14: Mark Bertolini (Part 2) - Employee Health - Stresxs Cut in Half With Mindfulness & Yoga - Aetna


Mark Bertolini the CEO of Aetna is here for part 2 of his amazing interview. Last week, we talked about his health journey and how he discovered meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. Today’s episode goes beyond that journey as Mark shares how introducing mindfulness and yoga to Aetna actually increased productivity and lowered health care costs. We love Mark, and you will too.


Mark T. Bertolini Chairman and CEO of Aetna

Twitter: @mtbert

LinkedIn: Mark Bertolini



Learn more about BB&R & Achieving Optimal Health Conference by visiting BBRconsulting.us.

This podcast was sponsored by Aetna.

Learn how Aetna is working to build a healthier world by visiting www.aetnastory.com

Show Notes

  • [01:21] Mark told his team at Aetna that they should do mindfulness and yoga.

  • [02:45] They decided to do a double blind study to measure the effectiveness of the program.

  • [03:22] Mauri and yoga teacher Gary Kraftsow put together a program that included journaling.

  • [03:45] The results of the study were dramatic and people’s stress levels dropped. People had increased productivity and decreased healthcare costs.

  • [04:33] His doubting chief medical officer became a believer, because stress levels were cut in half.

  • [05:18] Through the journaling, Mark discovered how stressed out his employees actually were and the real-life problems they were experiencing.

  • [05:58] Mark wanted to learn about the people on the front lines of the organization.

  • [06:10] Things were tough. Most of them were single mothers. Some of the families were on food stamps and had children on Medicaid.

  • [06:26] Mark decided that they needed to raise the minimum wage. The lowest wages were raised to at least $16 an hour. They also eliminated out-of-pocket wellness costs.

  • [07:24] The result of this was a 1200% increase in employee engagement.

  • [08:22] This led to wondering what else they can do to improve things. They increased tuition reimbursement, started help paying student loans, and they even have pet therapy in their buildings.

  • [09:01] Part of the mission is to spread this to other companies.

  • [09:20] Our ZIP Code has a huge impact on our life expectancy. Aetna launched the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge.

  • [10:34] Getting cities focused on improving the quality of life can have a huge impact on healthcare.

  • [10:59] The city that wins the challenge gets a million or a million and a half dollars.

  • [11:46] Community-based support can have an impact on society.

  • [13:15] Health ambition is personal.

  • [14:38] You have to understand what a person's problem is or define it as the life they want to lead. You have to understand the alternatives to solving that problem. Then you have to understand the barriers to pursuing those alternatives.

  • [15:38] Helping people solve for their ambitions will get them engaged in the program.

  • [15:58] Mark doesn't have a daily routine, but there are certain things he tries to fit into the day.

  • [16:10] The two most important decisions you can make each day are what am I going do with my time and whom am I going to spend that time with?

  • [17:24] Mark tries to practice yoga daily and ride his bike.

  • [17:44] He gets up around six and gets his routine in and then goes to the office.

  • [18:03] Mark and his wife Mauri are also involved in urban farms. It's their goal to

Links and Resources:

Gary Kraftsow

Mount Madonna

Aetna Social Compact

Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge

“I came to work one day and I said, I think we should do mindfulness and yoga.” -Mark Bertolini

“By implementing yoga at Aetna, we found that stress levels dropped and productivity increased.” -Mark Bertolini

“When I go out in the field, I walk around and I shake everybody's hands in every cubicle and thank them for their work.” -Mark Bertolini