Haitian American Errol Pierre is the Senior Vice President of State Programs at Healthfirst Inc, one of New York’s largest not-for-profit health insurance companies, has earned the trust of more than 1.8 million members by ensuring access to affordable and high-quality healthcare.
In a recent interview with Carib News, Pierre shared his foray in healthcare, how he stays connected to the community, and some of his many accomplishments in the health industry.
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From hearing his story, one would conclude that Errol Pierre was destined for the healthcare industry. As a boy, he had an unfortunate experience with a root canal at a dentist’s office when his medical coverage ran out, and this helped shape his decision to pursue a career in health.
He knows firsthand what it feels like to not to have complete, adequate, comprehensive healthcare. As he would tell it, understanding his parents’ plight as non-English-speaking immigrants who worked in the industry also helped to shape his decision.
Pierre’s father worked in the kitchen of a nursing home, while his Mom became a pharmacist.
He is currently the Senior Vice President of State Programs for Healthfirst, and is proud to represent the largest nonprofit health plan in New York State that was founded 30 years ago this year. The company provides low cost, high quality benefits to all walks of life.
His background places him in a unique position to serve. During our chat, he shared that “there’s not a lot of diversity at the upper echelons of many corporations, and so I’m uniquely positioned in being African American, Haitian American at a high level role.”
For more than 20 years, he’s lived on the Bronx, until recently moving to Brooklyn. He has also chosen to live in the community that he serves, always interacting with Healthfirst members at the local grocery store or elsewhere in his neighborhood.
As SVP of State Programs, he runs product and sales for the Medicaid line of business. They cater to individuals making below roughly $20,000 a year. The long-term care line of business caters to individuals who are seniors in the home and need an aid to help them with activities of daily living, like washing, cooking, cleaning, and then there’s the commercial line of business.
In this role, he oversees sales, retention, and community engagement across the company’s Medicaid and Long-Term Care product portfolios, specifically for people who require Obamacare plans or small business coverage.
Before joining Healthfirst, Errol served as Chief Operating Officer for the commercial business unit of Empire BlueCross BlueShield, where, over the course of his 12-year tenure, he held various leadership roles in Sales, Product Development, and Strategy.
Some of his major accomplishments at Healthfirst have called upon his leadership.
He recalled in 2019, President Donald Trump’s administration revised immigration rules that forced families to choose between the things they need and the people they love. It made usage of public benefit programs that help families thrive–programs like Medicaid, SNAP food assistance, public housing, among others – a potential disqualifier for immigration.
The result: a sicker, hungrier, poorer nation, and an enormous step backwards from achieving health equity.
Healthfirst led the charge in education as there was a lot of misinformation, a lot of confusion, and there was a lot of fraud.
Another opportunity arose during the pandemic. He recalled that his team “did so much to try to help members navigate the craziness of COVID. We booked appointments for them. We helped them get transportation to get vaccinations. We booked appointments for them on the website because the websites were confusing and they were in English only…it was very hard for Caribbean populations to book their own appointments. We did community education.
They did their share of myth busting to make sure people had the right information. They also worked with City Harvest to bring food pantries to food deserts so that Healthfirst members could access food.
In discussing the biggest challenge to the healthcare industry at present, Pierre suggested that engagement is lacking.
He says, “Trying to keep it in the forefront of people’s minds that health is your wealth… engagement piece is the toughest part. And doing it in language and doing it culturally competent.”
He says, “I understand the population we serve” and is constantly working toward meeting people where their needs are.
Watch the entire interview via our YouTube channel below.
This Saturday June 3, Errol Pierre will join Carib News at the Wake Eden Baptist Church in the Bronx from 12pm to 2 pm for a Community Town Hall to discuss how the new federal changes in Medicare that may help you benefit from more coverage, and share how you can save money on prescriptions.
We hope to see you there! RSVP HERE.