DEI in Healthcare? Pros and Cons with Tony Jenkins

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Show Notes

On this episode of Nuance, Case interviews the Market President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Tony Jenkins, on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the healthcare business. Tony shares his experience in implementing DEI initiatives in various companies and emphasizes the need for a clear definition surrounding diversity. They discuss the need for collaboration and coordination in the healthcare system and the importance of serving others through the eyes of Jesus.

Nuance is a podcast of The Collaborative where we wrestle together about living our Christian faith in the public square. Nuance invites Christians to pursue the cultural and economic renewal by living out faith through work every facet of public life, including work, political engagement, the arts, philanthropy, and more.

Each episode, Dr. Case Thorp hosts conversations with Christian thinkers and leaders at the forefront of some of today’s most pressing issues around living a public faith.

Our hope is that Nuance will equip our viewers with knowledge and wisdom to engage our co-workers, neighbors, and the public square in a way that reflects the beauty and grace of the Gospel.

Learn more about The Collaborative:
Website: https://collaborativeorlando.com/  
Get to know Case: https://collaborativeorlando.com/team/

Episode Transcript

Case Thorp

Bang, the car crashes right into another. Your neck is hurting. The ambulance arrives and you are rushed to the hospital. Do you see the hospital? Look down the side street that extends off the public square. And there it is that institution that is there for our health. But you know, friends, for many of us, sadly, especially the vulnerable, a trip to the hospital begins a very expensive and confusing journey. I was just in the hospital here recently. I’m fine. But wow, the bills are flowing in and the insurance is, well, it’s kicking in, but boy, wouldn’t it be nicer if it was better? Well, the healthcare industry and notably the insurance portion is our focus today. And I am grateful to be speaking to an expert in the field, a man who is a leader in faith and organization, Tony Jenkins, the market president for Blue Cross Blue Shield here in central Florida. Welcome, Tony.

Tony Jenkins

Thank you, Case, looking forward to the discussion today.

Case Thorp 

Well, I really appreciate it. Y’all should know Tony rearrange his schedule to make this work. So I don’t know if he’s that free on his time, which he’s not or that I’m that important, which I’m not. So, come on, come on, come on. Well, want to welcome everybody here to Nuance where we seek to be faithful in the public square. As Tony said, I’m case and we want to encourage you to like subscribe and share. It really helps us to grow an audience if you will share this with others. So let me tell you about my friend, Tony. He graduated from Mars Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, my hometown, has had a fascinating career, almost 20 years with the Walt Disney Company at Walt Disney World and then to CSX, a freight rail company. I got to hear more about that. And now 23 years with Blue Cross Blue Shield. First as a vice president for multicultural programs and diversity. And now as the market president, the big man for central Florida. Now, Tony’s also a community leader serving as chairman elect. Are you still chairman elect to the Orlando Economic Partnership?

Tony Jenkins 

No, I passed that and I was chair. We’ve got to update my bio.

Case Thorp 

Got it, got it. in for those who aren’t in the Orlando area. That’s sort of our Chamber of Commerce for the city. He was recently on the Orange County Mayor’s Task Force for a distribution of our tourist tax monies. As you can imagine, we get a penny or two through the hotel tax. And so it’s several hundred millions of dollars that are allocated to area projects. And I know Tony worked hard on that. He’s also on the Central Florida Help Me Sports Commission.

Tony Jenkins

Yes.

Case Thorp 

And so he’s a good at getting tickets. Well, I find this fascinating. Tony was also in Benny Hinn’s first congregation many decades ago. Benny Hinn, the televangelist known for his faith healings on TV. I don’t know. Stage not stage, but he’s a Presbyterian now. So he, he’s, it was predestined. He’s come home. Well, and then, most importantly, Tony is a Gotham fellow having completed the Gotham fellowship with me. n 2023. So Tony, welcome. What did I miss? What else should we know about Anthony Jenkins?

Tony Jenkins 

Man, that’s too much already, Case. Too much already.

Case Thorp

Yeah, Jacksonville and Savannah, your home stomping grounds.

Tony Jenkins

Yes, people don’t know that I moved here to Orlando when I was a junior in college. I worked there full time. But in 1978, when I was a junior in college, I moved to Orlando to work as an intern. And as you can imagine, this region was bare. But my first job at Disney, they put us in a character costume. I was the big bad wolf for a day. Yes.

Case Thorp

No. dude. I’ve got more to add to your interesting bio. Now it was.

Tony Jenkins 

Yes, Big Bad Wolf. Counter to what my personality is, but it was a fun event.

Case Thorp 

Now at Morris Brown, was that an internship at Disney program? Okay.

Tony Jenkins 

Yes, yes, my major was hotel and restaurant management and Disney came to recruit at Morris Brown’s campus for restaurant managers and I came down for two summers and worked.

Case Thorp

Wow. Well, I’m having lunch today with a former Prince Charming. And so to have talked now to Big Bad Wolf, you know, if you live in Orlando, you get to meet folks that had a fun stint as a character at some point. Well, Big Bad Wolf, like, I don’t know that I’ll ever look at you the same again.

Tony Jenkins

Yes. I’m sorry.

Case Thorp 

Well, let’s just talk about that a little bit more. So what does somebody not already know perhaps of being a character at Disney?

Tony Jenkins

Yes, thank you. That’s a great question. People don’t know that those costumes are very, very hot.

Case Thorp 

Ooh, I can imagine.

Tony Jenkins

And to be able to relieve and give people time, because you’re out in the hot sun in Florida during the summer. So on a full eight hour shift, the characters, 30 minutes on stage, 30 minutes off. 30 minutes on stage, 30 minutes off. That’s their whole shift for the whole day.

Case Thorp 

Yeah, to rehydrate. Yeah. So would there be another big bad wolf to step in?

Tony Jenkins 

Well, no, 30 minutes on, when you’re off stage, you’re just, Big Bad Wolf is taking a break right now. He’ll be back in another, you know, so, yeah.

Case Thorp 

I got it. They just scheduled. Yeah. See, well, so I guess when it comes to faith work integration, I mean, that’s just hell, right? It’s so hot in there. Never thought about that. Well, tell us a bit about your career journey. And I mean, how do you go from Disney to freight trains to health insurance? Like that’s an interesting ride there.

Tony Jenkins

Yep. Exactly. In real life. Yeah, yes. And Case I’ll tell you, it was definitely an act of a real trust and real obedience because I planned to stay with Disney my entire career. I interned there. I was there for 18 years full time. Love managing restaurants. Then they pulled me off stage for managing restaurants for three years when there was a huge expansion of hotels and restaurants.

If you remember Pleasure Island at Disney, an entertainment complex, I was asked for three years to go around the country and hire restaurant managers and chefs. Best job I ever had. While I was doing that job, and then my mom got really, really sick in Jacksonville. And I was trying to go back and forth to take care of her and it was becoming really, really challenging. 

And I offered up a prayer to God. I said, something’s gotta change. I love what I do at Disney. I was doing, but I need to be home at Jacksonville. You know, when we offer up a prayer to God, he will answer a sincere, genuine prayer. I say, God, nobody in Jacksonville is doing what I’m doing here. If somebody offers me a job, I’ll move back home to Jacksonville.

And at the time I was doing multicultural work at Disney because of the Hispanic growth in Florida. Disney was really trying to determine how do they grow their Hispanic based population in theme park. So I had Hunter call me in case and said, CSX railroad is looking at getting more into the Hispanic community and wanting to focus on multicultural work.

Case Thorp 

Wow.

Tony Jenkins 

When I got that call from that headhunter, I said, I started packing my bags. But it was a test case. Was I really going to leave Disney? One of the biggest entertainment companies in the country, in the world, I trusted in God that he knew what he was doing. I’m going to move to Jacksonville. And when the headhunter called me, CSX was the company. I went and interviewed and I won’t say reluctantly, but I knew what I was giving up. I took the job. A total faith. Total faith.

Case Thorp

Sure. On faith, but also for this greater vocational commitment to your mother.

Tony Jenkins

Yes, Case, you’re absolutely right. And do you know what I did as well? I moved back home in her house in the hood and I slept in my bedroom that I grew up in, in a twin bed for two years. For two years. But I knew I was there for a purpose and a reason to help my mom and she got healthier over those two years that I stayed with her.

Case Thorp 

Wow. Yeah. Well, you know, we talk a lot about faith and work and that’s important. But I also, especially in the classroom settings with Gotham fellows and our Orlando fellows and arts fellows, the importance of your vocation is really your bigger call in life. There’s a portion of that for which you get paid for what you draw an income check. But I really respect and appreciate you recognizing.

Tony Jenkins 

Yes

Case Thorp 

What the fifth commandment is all about to honor your father and mother.

Tony Jenkins 

Right, right. And it was a, and we both learned, we both grew, we both challenged each other, but I knew that I was there for, for a reason.

Case Thorp

And I would suspect looking back on your career path and choices, you’d make the same choice.

Tony Jenkins 

Yeah. And listen, Case, I wouldn’t have, there’s no way I would have been in this position where I’m right now if I would not have taken that step because a buddy of mine was working at Blue Cross, I’m at CSX, and said, hey, the HR director at Blue Cross wants to talk with you about your experience at Disney. He just wants to learn what you do. He knew you was in Jacksonville. Just find out more about Disney. I went over and had that conversation and then middle of that conversation, the head of HR at Blue Cross said, hey, we got a job. We want to hire you. I said, well, I didn’t know I was interviewing. He said, we’ve got the perfect job for you. And that’s how I got at Blue Cross.

Case Thorp 

Now that job, interestingly enough, it was in DEI as a diversity equity inclusion advocate. And you’ve even done work for the Orlando economic partnership in this area. Now DEI has gotten some rough criticism and in some ways it seems to be kind of going out of fashion. So as I read the news and hear people talk, so tell me your convictions and thoughts on the DEI movement and.

Tony Jenkin

Yes. Right.

Case Thorp 

What’s been strong and what’s been weak.

Tony Jenkins 

So my focus on this work, because I’ve done it now in three places, at Disney, when I was leaving there, I set up the office, and CSX, and I started doing this at Blue Cross. My focus and my whole structure around this was the, what’s the business case for diversity. We work in a state of Florida, one of the more diverse states in the country where over 35 % of the population is made up of the multicultural components. 

And so from a business standpoint case, if Disney cannot attract individuals from these growing communities to come and visit their theme parks, they’re not gonna be able to compete and continue to grow their revenue if they don’t diversify their offerings, their products, if they don’t diversify their entertainment. So when I came to Blue Cross, it was the same thing. What’s the business case for diversity? What communities do we need to sell our products in? More Hispanic, more Black, more Asian, more Haitian. That was always my focus around the business case for diversity.

Case Thorp 

Yeah. Well, I’ve noticed over the years with heading to the parks, our family for 10 years had an annual pass and I just loved and treasured those times. But there would be full seasons of like Brazil season, which is I imagine when their schools were out and you’d be in the parks and it was filled with folks from Brazil. Then there would be like United Kingdom season, all the English and Scots were there with us. That, of course, that international reach of Walt Disney World.

Tony Jenkins

Yes. Right.

Tony Jenkins 

Right. Right. So let me share with you quickly, when we started this diversity work at Disney, I wanted to do analysis for one year to understand why were we doing this. We went to the most affluent black communities, one of the most affluent black communities in the country, and we asked them, where do you go out for vacation?

Case Thorp 

A lot of folks don’t realize. Was this in Atlanta?

Tony Jenkins 

No, it was actually in Prince George’s Maryland, right outside of Washington, DC. We knew that there were some communities in Atlanta, but we asked them, where do you go for vacation? We wanted to, we were trying to get some insights. Majority of African -Americans back then said they go to the islands, Caribbean islands. We asked, why don’t you come to Disney? And here was what they said, listen, we want to go when we’re on vacation, we want to be comfortable. We want to, we want to be with people like us and they say when we get whenever we go to Disney World The only African-Americans we see are custodial. We don’t see anybody in suits walking around And and and we don’t feel like we were we were welcomed there. We’re welcome in the islands No one is opening up and welcoming. So those are some insights that we took to try to then build a product that was welcoming to people of color.

Case Thorp

Wow. Sure. Yeah. So the business case, I mean, it makes a lot of sense. I would even say in general, it’s a biblical concept that we want to reflect, as it says in Revelation 7, 9, the wholeness of all God’s people and children on its independent terms. I mean, diversity and then equity and then inclusion are a good thing. But yet my take is, a lot of the criticism has come that there’s no firm definition on what do we mean by DEI. And so therefore you’ve got everybody in different sectors arm wrestling over, well, this is DEI. No, that’s DEI. Tell me, tell me your thoughts.

Tony Jenkins (15:35.288)

Case, you’re absolutely right. Yes. You’re absolutely right. And a part of what we were focusing on as well is the word inclusion. And when we said the word inclusion, because to some people diversity means you’re talking about a certain segment of individuals. I’m not diverse. Well, we added the word inclusion because inclusion means all of us. Inclusion is include everyone. But people, unfortunately, like you said, will take sound bites and what is controversial around politics, around aspects of what happened or didn’t happen around slavery, around various laws, around segregation. And that can be very, very polarizing around what people’s thoughts are. We didn’t, and I think that you’re right. There’s been no clear definition around what is mean.

That’s why when we did it inside of these various companies, first thing we came out is what do we mean by this? What’s our focus? Here’s what we’re going to, here’s a narrow area that we’re going to work in. And we define that within the companies.

Case Thorp 

Well, so I’ve got a number of attorney friends that have talked about how in their industry, there are rating agencies that will then give your firm a DEI rating that other clients can look at and decide whether they want to participate or not. And for a lot of folks, it felt like quotas. And it felt like, well, do we have to adjust standards in order to meet quotas or is the other side of that coin. No, we need to dig deeper and go further in order to find those that that are meeting the standards. How did you run into that?

Tony Jenkins 

So one of the things that we tried to do, again, if we focus on the business case, then it wasn’t about necessarily, about quotas. Here’s a great question we always ask. I would always ask, are you talking about representation? If you’re talking about hiring folks that are African American or black or Hispanic or reaching certain percentages, you talk about representation. You’re not talking about diversity. So let’s be clear in what we’re talking about. So representation cases telling someone you have to look like this, a percentage of this or, but that’s not what we’re talking about. That’s what, so again, it’s in the definition. What are you focusing and be very clear about what you’re looking for and about what you’re asking for. That’s what we try to do.

Case Thorp

That’s very helpful. So do you see the pendulum swinging against DEI or perhaps it’s a maturing of DEI?

Tony Jenkins 

No, I see the pendulum definitely switching because they’ve combined a lot of incorrect messages around CRT, around critical race theory, affirmative action, some colleges are dismantling affirmative action quotas, and all of this, then gets mixed up, well that’s just another way to say D -E -I. So therefore, and then guess what? The general population is not doing their research to really understand what are they talking, they’re hearing this from, and they’re hearing this from governors and mayors and supposedly intelligent people and they’re gonna take their word for it.

But again, inside businesses, think about consumer driven companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi. These companies have to have a strategy to try to have their products purchased by everyone. And they are trying to make sure that their messages are resonating with all of these different communities.

Case Thorp

Well, in my heart for our church, First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, right downtown, 147, maybe 48 year old church, I want it to be here in a hundred years. And I know for it to be here, it’s got to reflect the fullness of this community. And if it’s just male and pale, if it’s just white folks, it’s not going to survive or last longterm. Now, I don’t know exactly how to get there, but I do know some initial steps that we’ve talked about in ways that, especially in our leadership upfront, this church has hired in the past, Brazilian and Hispanic pastors. And I don’t know how it’s all going to work out, but I also know long -term we’ve got to reflect our community a year, a mile away, five miles away and 10 miles away of our building.

Tony Jenkins

Right, right. And in case I’ll tell you that, I think the thing that I’ve noticed in various churches, organizations that may not reflect the community that they ascribe, that they hopefully ascribe to be, as long as you’re presenting yourself as welcoming, open, loving, because there are, because people of color just want to be accepted, treated naturally.

I asked a question when I was recruiting at Disney years and years ago when I went to a black school. I asked them, would you rather see a black recruiter or a white recruiter? The students said to me, we want someone that treats us fairly. We want someone that respects us. They said, because we’ve had black recruiters that come here and that have not respected us. That have not. So for us, we want someone that values who we are. And that would be the same thing that I’ll say to any organization or anybody that’s wanting to be welcoming to all.

Case Thorp (22:20.428)

Yeah. Well, I appreciate your insights. DEI and CRTs certainly have a lot wrong with them, but we’ve got to move forward. Let’s shift to healthcare. So, I mean, dude, what is up with health insurance? I mean, it’s going up 10, 20, 30% a year. So tell me your thoughts on the landscape right now.

Tony Jenkins

Yes. You may not, it doesn’t come across as prominently as it should. We probably should do a better job as a company. Two of our primary focuses at Blue Cross and Blue Shield now, we operate in a state with the largest health insurer in the state of Florida. This is not a plug for our business at all, but we have over eight million people that have our products in the state of Florida. And two of our core primary principles is to focus on affordability and access. Affordability and access. We know how affordable healthcare is because we have individuals that purchase our products, that write us letters and say, we’re gonna drop your health insurance because we can’t afford you anymore.

Case Thorp 

Did you mean to say how affordable or unaffordable healthcare is?

Tony Jenkins 

So people drop us because of how unaffordable we are. You’re right, because they cannot afford, they cannot continue to afford our products. People drop us.

Case Thorp (23:55.02)

Got it. Yeah. Yeah. And you are kind of stuck in the middle with whatever the hospitals and doctors and medicines are doing.

Tony Jenkins 

Yeah. So people think that we arbitrarily come up with rates to get more revenue. So one of the things that people may not know, Case, we’re a not -for -profit organization. Blue Cross. We’re not-for-profit. Therefore, at the end of the day, once we take in our revenues, pay all of our expenses, our net income, our profit margin last year case was 4%. 4%. So, but we understand that in the average health insurance costs average for a family of four, it’s probably close to a thousand dollars a month. And we know that’s not sustainable. But you brought up a point. The way that we come up with these costs is we have a very serious underwriting and actuarial department. 

It starts with the costs that we, our partners charge us hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, because again, we have to then offer these bundled health insurance products to members, but it’s a combination of pricing the network, hospital, pharmaceutical companies, and the zip codes that you live in as well will determine the price as well.

Case Thorp

Well, and there’s this perception that health insurance companies are evil and full of money and wanting to soak up more. But that really is telling that you’re actually a nonprofit. And I don’t know. I mean, get that out there in your tagline. Put a nonprofit health care service.

Tony Jenkins

But yeah, but even when we do that case, people will still focus on the bottom line of what they’re… Yes, sir. And we understand that. And we understand that.

Case Thorp

coming out of their pocket. Yeah, yeah. Okay. So then, I mean, did Obamacare help hinder? Where are things headed?

Tony Jenkins

So I think Obamacare is a part of the solution because it’s able to benefit individuals that previously were uninsured before, a large population of individuals that were uninsured. And those individuals, when they needed care, were showing up in the hospital’s emergency rooms, in the ERs. Well, now if you make less than $60 ,000 a year, $50 ,000 a year, even $100 ,000 a year, you can go online to the healthcare .gov and you can pick some plans that have been introduced by not only Blue Cross, but other health insurers as well. And if you meet the qualifications of income, family status, and if you answer these questions, you can receive subsidies from the government to help you cover your health insurance. 

And we’ve seen some individuals’ case. They go online, they fill out the information to see if they qualify, meet the criteria of what the government subsidies you can get. And we see that someone initially will say that you’re going to get a $300 a month premium. Once they go through this subsidy allocation process, they will come out paying $10 a month for health insurance. Some will pay zero a month premium. So you can imagine that has gotten a lot of individuals off of the uninsured rolls.

Case Thorp 

Right. Now, as a conservative politically myself, I’m glad to hear people getting help. I worry about costs and the government being able to cover such things long -term. If you had a magic wand and could fix our healthcare system, what would you like to see?

Tony Jenkins

I would like to see more coordination and collaboration. Listen, we’ve got in this area alone, we have some of the best hospital systems, the most sophisticated hospital systems, the most qualified health systems in the country. AdventHealth, Orlando Health, HCA, they’re all phenomenal facilities. Pharmaceutical drugs and medicines help sustain lives, they help save lives. Health insurers are out to help financing the cost of you getting these treatments. But in case we’ve got to do a better job of us working together to help solve this affordability crisis. I call it an affordability crisis. And so again, I would like to, and listen, we do great work with Advent Health, great work, Orlando Health. I would like to see us do more, more work on behalf, on behalf of the consumer. Let’s keep this person in the middle and let’s work towards that person and that family.

Case Thorp 

So I have not been typically a fan of government healthcare. And we look to England and other places and go, but the lines and the quality. However, I’ll tell you, I was listening to a podcast with Newt Gingrich the other day, former speaker of the house, certainly not somebody known for his progressive insights. And he was interviewing a woman who was a healthcare expert at I believe University of Pennsylvania.

And she made a very good point and he actually agreed with it. And that was this. We certainly as a society say that everybody deserves safety. So we all chip in and provide police forces. And yet if you want more safety, you can go to a gated community or buy an alarm system. We say that all housing is a basic right to some degree. So we have government funds for shelters and government housing, but Hey, if you want a nicer house, go get one.

And she made the analogy of when it comes to healthcare, why not have basic healthcare services for all. And then for those with extra means, they can go buy extra and nicer or maybe different insurance plans. And Newt was behind it. And I thought, wow, it was just a new idea for me to chew on.

Tony Jenkins 

So here’s one of the facts. In the United States, we have the most innovative healthcare system in the world. We have individuals coming from all over the world for new procedures, new surgeries, innovations in healthcare. But to your point, It’s too expensive for the average, not the average person, but it’s, again, I go back to that word, it’s unaffordable for a lot of us. Listen, there are some aspects of care that’s out of reach for so many individuals. But going back to your point, I sat in a session where a group of medical professionals from England came to the US.

And they were touting, I sat in a group from Canada as well, touting their system of government -based healthcare. The case, their pros and cons to systems like that.

Would a US citizen, if we had a type of system like those countries, and if you had a specialist surgery needed where you needed knee replacement surgery, would you be willing to be put on a list and to wait eight months? Now, that’s not the case in all of those situations, but there are some situations where,

When you’re on a system of a government manufactured healthcare system, there’s some trade -offs that you’re going to have to take. And so this country feels like the private industry right now is a better approach. Now, it may change based on what political system or political party is in is in is in is in place.

Case Thorp 

Yeah, yeah. Well, I am grateful to know a man of your faith and theological mind is in these very, very hard conversations and leading these massive institutions that will trickle down in big ways and have an influence on so many. Tony, tell us about Jesus to you and then kind of parlay into how he guides your work and your leadership.

Tony Jenkins 

My faith journey started many years ago when I was at Disney World. And I started working at Disney after my internship in 1980, 1981. And I was a churchgoer, just every Sunday just going to church group in Jacksonville, the church was one block away from my house. My mother and grandmother, I was in an AME church every Sunday, every Sunday. But as a young kid, I mean, I was more into sports and trying to get into college, but I knew I had to be in church. So my personal relationship was definitely something lacking. And I knew that.

I was in a restaurant at Disney, Crystal Palace Restaurant. These people were coming into my restaurant, happy, joyous, jumping around, I mean, just having fun. And I said, you’re Christians? Yeah, they were. And because my thought process of going to this church that I grew up in, Christians necessarily didn’t have fun. And weren’t joke, weren’t jovial. And so when I saw that, I want to validate that they’re Christians and they were. And then I asked them, what church do they go to? They told me Cavalry Assembly, but the concert that was in the park that day, Disney used to do Christian artists in their parks. And eventually, yes, and after that, it turned into the Night of Joy.

But the Christian artist was Sandy Patty. I’ll never forget that. I’ll never forget that concert. So as you can imagine, I started visiting that church, Cavalry Assembly in Winter Park, was converted there, accepted Christ. And as we mentioned earlier, Mr. Benny Hinn was a few years older than me as a young minister. He married the pastor’s daughter, Suzanne. Suzanne Hartham was her name before she got married to Benny. And Benny decided he was going to start a church. And a lot of us followed Benny to his church. But I would say that that was my original beginnings of my Christian faith.

Case Thorp

Yeah. And now these many years later, of course in career, but in faith maturity, what does faith and work integration look like for you? And especially you’re not at a explicitly Christian company. You have to make room and you do make room for all sorts of beliefs. Talk to us about that.

Tony Jenkins 

It’s my early on career. I’m a lot more settled and a lot more firm on my beliefs today. Early in my career, I was not, it was a lot of trial and error. Because of the case, I didn’t see a lot of people like me that was in the Christian faith in the business world.

At one point I thought, okay, do I need to leave the business world to become a minister? To become, because I felt like I wasn’t benefiting or being a true Christian. But I didn’t realize that God had his hand on my life every step of the way. But it was the insecurities of me being a young Christian and not having a firm role model to help guide me. But God had his hand on getting me from Disney to CSX to Blue Cross. And you’re right, challenging conversations where there have been some times where I’ve had to rely on God’s wisdom in discussions and in situations.

As I look back now, not when I’m in it, it was tough, struggling, but as I look back, I can see where God has been leading me in these discussions all along.

Case Thorp 

And in your role, how many employees report to you?

Tony Jenkins 

Directly about five or six in this region, we have four regional presidents. There are about 250 people working in this region.

Case Thorp 

And I know, I mean, you make room for others. Your being a Christian in a role doesn’t mean that you’re evangelizing in other people’s careers.

Tony Jenkins 

No. Yes. And as you can imagine, I’ve had people come up to me and ask for advice. Some may know my faith case, some may not. They just want to be mentored. They want to be counseled. They want to know about their career. They want to know about what they can do in this company. And I don’t necessarily turn into Mr. Preacher and go into spiritual insights, but I do share with them about my journey, that I’m a faith -based. My focus and my foundation is faith -based. But here’s what you should do as an employee focused on being a…

I always tell folks, Case, you can do anything you want working for me in my region. There are three things you cannot do. You cannot do anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. I always say that. And anything else, we can talk about it. Those three things are off the books. But I’ll share this with you. I had a high -level director call me last week.

She needed to meet with me. So I met with her at lunch, season 52. We sat down, I started talking to her about books, readers, folks I’ve been reading, business, she stopped me, she goes, I need help from a spiritual standpoint.

That was the first time in a long time that I’ve had someone be that direct and candid about needing help with their spiritual walk. From a work stamp, from a workplace.

Case Thorp 

Yeah, yeah. That’s wonderful. I mean, like you said, I may not be a preacher man, but I always bear witness. And you bear witness in your own demeanor and manner and kind words and choices. And when asked or they are the opportunity, you bear witness to Jesus. Tony, where do you feel God’s pleasure in your work?

Tony Jenkins 

Bro. Yes. Right. I am so passionate, case about my work because we are genuinely helping people. After I was with Disney, with, with Blue Cross for three years, the folks at Disney called me back. They wanted me to come back.

Case Thorp 

Not for a big bad wolf.

Tony Jenkins

No, no, not for Big Bad Wolf. I might have thought about it. That was a fun gig. That was a fun gig. But Disney called me back. And they offered me the dream job that I wanted before I left there. It was with ESPN, director of staffing. And Case I just really prayed, sought counseling, and I chose to stay at Blue Cross because I felt like at that stage in my life, it was more about significance rather than success. So I say that to say my job now is about me living out who I am in Christ at the workplace.

And I know that, and I feel that because I know the situations that I’m involved in from a work standpoint, a lot of it’s God directed, a lot of it is more meaningful. And that’s, I get so much pleasure out of that because I’m serving other people, be it people that work for me or situations of people that need help related to health.

Case Thorp

Well, Tony, you certainly help redeem for me the healthcare insurance world, knowing it’s a nonprofit, knowing your care for folks. I hope that other people get a sense of that and recognize your role and the way in which medical insurance plays a key role in our community. Go ahead.

Tony Jenkins

Healthcare is very complicated. It can be because of the cost and tangibles. And we talk this every day. For someone that doesn’t focus on this, it can be challenging. I work for a company and I can say this unabashedly. The other people that I’m in the room with from a leadership standpoint, they may not all be believers, but there’s a genuine sense of caring and let’s do what’s best for the individual. So that’s what keeps me active and energized because I know we’re all rolling towards trying to do the best for the individual.

Case Thorp 

Well, an example of that are your upcoming community wide health fairs. Tell us about that.

Tony Jenkins 

Yes. So one of the things that we know is that people have challenges with keeping regular appointments. People have challenges taking their medication. So what we do is we get out into the community and we bring those services to the community. We try to build those services around major events and parks, Camping World Stadium, Amway Center. And so we want to be able to offer these services and bring information. Health literacy is very important for people to understand what they’re hearing. I would encourage folks to go to our website. Is it okay if I give our website, Case? FloridaBlue.com.

Case Thorp 

Yeah, Florida blue.com.

Tony Jenkins 

If you live in the Orlando area or across the state of Florida, we have these retail centers that we built. We have 40 of them now in every major market across the state where people don’t have to do things through a phone only. They can go in and get face to face with a Florida blue representative if they’ve got problems with their claims, if they’ve got something that they feel like they don’t believe it’s true or if they don’t want to go to a doctor, we’ve got nurses in there, you can get face to face.

Case Thorp

Wow, and if you were trying to maximize your dollar, you wouldn’t do that. You’d say, call on the phone.

Tony Jenkins

You’re right, Case. We’re the only, there’s no other health insurer around the country. We don’t, we don’t necessarily, these are not profit centers for us. These are places that we want to be able to help individuals achieve better health. So we have these all around the country in the Orlando area, they are in Winter Park Village, Winter Haven, and in Claremont.

Case Thorp 

Okay. Okay. Well, I’ve seen the one at Winter Park Village and I’ve thought, huh, you don’t see those for other health insurance companies. I’m like, what’s going on there? That’s good to know. Tony, thank you. I really appreciate your time and your expertise.

Tony Jenkins

Yes. Well, thank you, Case. I love, again, my passion is serving people through this healthcare company, but more importantly, loving and serving others through the eyes of Jesus. So.

Case Thorp 

Well, friends, thank you so much for joining Tony and I today. Again, please like and share. It really helps us get the word out. Leave a review wherever you get your podcast. Go to collaborativeorlando.org. You’ll find all sorts of content. You’ll find us across the social media platforms. Don’t forget, we’ve got Nuance Formed for Faithfulness. It’s a weekly 10 -minute devotional podcast for the working Christian, and it follows the liturgical calendar kind of different.

I want to thank our sponsor for today, the Magruder Foundation. I’m Case Thorp, and God’s blessings on you.