by Art Levy
Updated 2 months ago
The quality of care that a patient receives is always dependent on the ethics and morality of the doctor. Nothing else.
At the end of the month, when somebody is struggling to pay the electricity bill, and he finds it within himself to sacrifice and give $50 to a charity, I think that has more value than someone who can write a check for $100,000 and not even miss it.
I was always an entrepreneurial guy, and I knew I would never work for anybody.
My father taught me honesty. Once I remember he had me carry a bag of quarters from the bank to his shop and there was a quarter more. He said that banks can’t make mistakes. I counted again, and the extra quarter was still there. I counted one more time. The bank was probably a mile, two miles away, and he made me walk all the way back to the bank to give that quarter back. I was 10 years old.
When the HMO concept came, most physicians would look at the insurance and not at the patient. Me, I was worried about the patient and not the insurance. So, by default, when other physicians would not see the HMO patient, I would see the HMO patient. Because I was taking care of those patients and because I have a business-type of a mind, I saw an opportunity in managed care. Rather than fight managed care, I embraced it and controlled it. Hence, I got into the insurance business.
If you do something with the only purpose of making money, you might falter. But if money is the byproduct of what you do, then you will see the benefit.
There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. I am a man of ‘my way or the highway’ only because I am so firmly focused and believe so much in what I want to do that very few people can shake me from my path. So, in that sense, I am rigid. I do listen to people, but that does not mean I will do what they want me to do. Unless they can convince me absolutely that I am wrong, it will be very difficult for me to change my course. My biggest strength and weakness is that.
Spending on health care is highest in the United States, but the outcome is not always the best. Even with all the flaws that we have, I still don’t think there is a better system in the world that can replace what we have.
I believe every human being gets up in the morning thinking that he would like to do good for others.
Medicine is one of very few professions where you can make money and serve humanity. You may not become very rich, but you’ll never be very poor. If today, somebody comes to me for advice, I would say medicine is the best profession to get into, even with all of the challenges today.
Golf is my passion. I have made a goal of playing at the top 100 courses of the country and the world. So most of my vacations and traveling, if it is not based on a philanthropic effort, will be for golf. I’ve probably played 50 of these courses or more. The unfortunate part is the list keeps growing or changing, so I can never catch up.
From childhood, I always wanted to be a doctor.
For me, being a vegetarian is not for health reasons. If you believe that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, then every living thing has God as a part of it. If you can survive without taking the life of another living being, human or animal, then you should do that. In that context, I do not eat meat.
Fortunately for me, I have a very good life partner. I am the accelerator, and my wife is the brake. When I want to do things, she’ll stop me and she’ll tell me why not. But if I still want to do it, she will not interfere. Once I embrace something, she’ll be right there next to me.
My insurance company grew to roughly $100 million a year in revenue and I was also practicing medicine. I couldn’t do both. After a lot of internal conflict, I opted to grow the business and break from practicing medicine. I felt that I could serve humanity maybe better that way. I believe that God gives you some skills or talents and you have to sometimes make a decision on what is better for you. In my case, history has proven that the option of growing the business was good. It gave me the means to do my philanthropic work, to build hospitals in India and Africa and to pay for health care for kids.
There are people who spend hours and hours of their time on volunteer work. I know many times the recognition may go to the person writing the big check, but who should be praised more?
Philosophically, if a barrier or a wall is in front of me, my theory is either go over it, around it, under it, through it or whatever, but find a way to get to the other side.