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Dallas 500

Meet the Dallas 500: Keith Barnes

The Cigna market leader shares the best advice he ever received, his dream car, and his vision for making Dallas even better.
By | |Illustration by Andrea Chavez
Keith Barnes
Illustration by Andrea Chavez

Keith Barnes is market president for North Texas and Oklahoma at Cigna and was hired in 2020 with more than 30 years of experience in the commercial and public sector and market sales leadership in healthcare. He was previously senior divisional vice president at Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)/Blue Cross Blue Shield.

He leads the local market for one of the largest healthcare companies and insurers in the country, with capabilities in more than 30 countries with more than 185 million customer relationships around the world. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, Cigna has around 3.5 percent market share in Texas with $1.7 billion in annual premiums in 2020.

In October, Cigna expanded its health plans to the individual marketplace for Texas residents in 11 counties. During the Open Enrollment Period, which begins Nov. 1, residents in Collin, Crosby, Dallas, El Paso, Ellis, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Lubbock, Rockwall, and Tarrant counties can buy a Cigna health plan for 2023 on the Affordable Care Act’s public marketplace.

Barnes was also a participant in D CEO Healthare’s breakfast panel last year that focused on what is next for health insurance. Below, learn more about Barnes’ first job, what he thinks everyone should read, and what’s next for the industry.

Education: Stephen F. Austin (BA, FInance)

Birthplace: San Marcos, Texas

Frist Job: “I was a group insurance representative with Prudential Health Care based in Houston after graduating from college. I learned that I was doing more than just selling insurance products. I was also helping business owners and corporations solve very specific issues that most often were unique to their companies. I have kept that lesson in mind every day since then.”

Best Advice: “You only have 100 percent of your time to deploy. It’s up to you to choose how to use it. Make sure you spend that time on actions that will move you closer to your desired goal. Don’t waste it! When leading others, set clear direction and expectations, be consistent and authentic in your leadership. Take the time to recognize individuals and teams for their accomplishments. They will thank you for it.”

Hobby/Passion: “When I am not trying to make health care affordable, predictable and simpler, I enjoy golfing and bass fishing. But most of all, spending time with my family, my kids and my grandson.”

Dream Car: “I would drive my GMC Denali HD 4×4 with my boat hooked on the back and head to the lake. Why? So I can spend time with my grandson and my son-in-law.”

Biggest Success: “Our ability to rapidly pivot to a work-at-home environment and continue serving our clients and customers. Throughout the pandemic, Cigna made it easier for our customers to access health care conveniently and safely through virtual care (telehealth), removed cost-sharing for Covid-related testing and treatment, and protected customers from surprise, out-of-network bills. We established the company as a source of credible information for our clients about rapidly evolving Covid-19 clinical evidence, vaccination delivery and return-to-work planning.”

A Better DFW: “Require everyone on the roads to slow down … and use their blinkers before making a random, near out-of-control lane change.”

Must Read: “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer. It shines a light on how we tend to spend way too much time on things that don’t matter in the long run. When we rush around trying to pack too much into our daily lives, it can leave us feeling empty and full of regrets. The book reinforces the value of restoring balance in our lives by focusing on what’s important.”

Bucket List: “Tour the Holy Land for two weeks. ”

Future Forecast: “Related to the business, I am excited to work with my leadership team to position the company for significant success. Our experience during the pandemic caused us to rethink and fine tune what we value most. I expect that we will all do things much differently in the future. I know I will. This will enable us to listen and deliver what is most important to the people we serve, and that’s very exciting to me.”


Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior editor for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…

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