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While she would eventually choose a career where uncertainty is the only certain thing, Kareen Dorsett was very sure of herself as a teen. She grew up in Jamaica, discovered an early aptitude for math, and has had an interest in actuarial science since tenth grade. That’s when her father introduced her to Daisy Coke, the first Jamaican actuary to practice in her native country.
Dorsett recalls her father describing his hero, whom she seeks to emulate to this day. “My dad spoke about her like she was a legend, a pioneer in the actuarial profession, not just for Jamaica but the entire Caribbean,” she recalls. “I have an appreciation for how Coke made a difference as a professional woman and that’s what I would like to do. I feel drawn to her now more than ever because I realize that I get to be that example for a new generation of young people.”
Today Dorsett is vice president and CFO of Florida Blue Medicare, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association based in Jacksonville, Florida. Being inspired by Coke lit an eternal fire in Dorsett, and she’s brought this passion to Florida Blue Medicare, where she earned her credentials as an actuary and rose through the ranks to achieve her current role.
As a leader who believes in the power of advocating for those on her various teams, Dorsett approaches the company’s mission of helping people and communities achieve better health by ensuring that her team is fully engaged. She does regular one-on-ones with team members to remind them that they are seen. During their conversations, she asks simple yet important questions: “What’s going well? What can we improve upon? How can I support you?” This year, she also had them fill out a form to state their goals, competencies they wish to develop, and ways their managers can help them along the way.
“That’s how I get to know what each person on the team needs,” she says. “Because everyone’s an individual, there aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions. You can put a blanket action plan together and say ‘Hey, we’re going to do this’, but it might not address the needs of all thirty people.”
Dorsett’s colleagues outside Florida Blue have noted her knack for keeping employees engaged. “Kareen is a strong leader with deep domain expertise which allows her to work across functions and bring people together across the enterprise,” says Deirdre Baggot, partner in health and life sciences at Oliver Wyman.
“Kareen is a pleasure to work with because she takes a broader strategic view when reviewing financial performance,” says Alexis Levy, a managing director at HealthScape Advisors. “Her commitment to understanding the impact that recommendations will have on her people and teams is unparalleled.”
Dorsett is also a community advocate who pours herself into Florida Blue’s community-centered initiatives. One of these initiatives includes an effort to increase supplier diversity, after a 2020 analysis found that Florida Blue’s parent company spent less than 10 percent of its supplier budget with diverse suppliers. Less than 1 percent of the budget was spent with Black-owned businesses.
“We didn’t feel like those results were representative of the communities we serve, so we set a goal to increase our diverse supplier spend to 20 percent by 2025,” she says. “I’m proud to share that last year we increased our diverse supplier spend to 11.5 percent, and we have a path to achieve our goal to be best in class among industry peers.” That path has included hosting an expo to introduce the company to diverse suppliers and sustaining those relationships through procurement practices.
When she isn’t making headway on that front, she and her team are tackling the issue of rising healthcare costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the country saw 9.7 percent growth in total national healthcare spending, bringing spending to $4.1 trillion, the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported.
While some of that may be attributed to the impacts of COVID, other data suggests that healthcare costs were on the rise even before the pandemic took the world by storm. In October 2022, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that the average family premium has increased 20 percent since 2017 and 43 percent since 2012.
To help improve the affordability of healthcare for Florida Blue Medicare’s members, Dorsett says, the company introduced some key partnerships. It teamed up with New Century Health on a joint initiative to address specialty provider costs while providing quality care. In addition, Florida Blue Medicare joined forces with Healthmap Solutions for a program that aims to better manage costs for the treatment of members with chronic kidney disease and end stage renal disease.
“Our job as a company is ensuring members are getting the right access to care and the right support so their health comes first,” she says.
Outside of work, Dorsett serves on the board for the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, an organization that provides advocacy, research, and training in support for at-risk girls. She is also a champion for the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus, which was founded in 1995 at Jacksonville University to fill a need for a children’s music program in the area. With two of her sons in band at their elementary school and one in the chorus, she sees the value of music education. In fact, last year she competed in a dance competition to raise $37,000 for the program, winning first place.
“I was very honored to use my time and my voice to bring awareness and financial support to a local program that provides scholarships for our youth so that they can travel the world and advance their education in Jacksonville,” she notes.
When she considers what’s next for her, she thinks about her husband and kids first. She wants to continue being the mom who can drop sweaters off at school on cold days and makes time for their concerts and events.
And as far as work goes, Dorsett is looking forward to helping Florida Blue Medicare head toward financial success and being a changemaker that Daisy Coke would be proud of.