LEADERS SURVEY: Medibank boss David Koczkar delves into focusing inwards and not believing everything you hear

Adrian Rauso
The Nightly
Mediband chief executive David Koczkar.
Mediband chief executive David Koczkar. Credit: Supplied/supplied

Medibank chief executive David Koczkar is captaining the biggest ship in the cutthroat private health insurance sector, but he won’t be constantly looking over his shoulder.

“The best personal advice I was ever given was to not compare yourself to others, but to compare yourself to how you were yesterday,” he told The Nightly for its exclusive Leaders Survey.

“To me, it’s both resisting the human temptation of comparing yourself to the success of others, which in many instances can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a negative mindset and is about holding yourself to account, recognising that every day gives you an opportunity to reset, move forward and refocus on what is most important in your life.”

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The former Jetstar and Qantas executive says he has come back to this advice often throughout his career, and now finds himself saying the same thing to others, including his daughters.

Mr Koczkar joined Medibank as its chief operating officer in 2014 before ascending to the top job in May 2021.

He has faced his fair share of challenges during his tenure, including a massive cyber-attack in October 2022 and the emergence of not-for-profit providers such as HBF looking to aggressively expand their reach into the East Coast market.

Through it all Medibank has remained the nation’s largest private health insurer and the hurdles Mr Koczkar will have to leap over are now more macroeconomic in nature.

Medibank CEO David Koczkar
Medibank CEO David Koczkar Credit: Medibank/ Medibank

He says that while inflation has slowed, the cost of living remains top of mind for everyone.

“This is impacting so many aspects of peoples’ lives — including their health — just last month a Productivity Commission report revealed the number of Australians who put off visits to the GP because the cost had doubled over the past 12 months,” he said.

“This is placing even more pressure on emergency rooms and leading to even longer public hospital wait lists.

“So, investing in new care settings and prevention is crucial to helping address the cost of living.”

Mr Koczkar says Australia spends more than $38 billion annually on care for people with chronic health conditions, yet more than a third of chronic diseases are preventable.

“For every $1 invested in prevention, the health cost savings exceed $14, according to the Department of Health and Ageing — so it’s a compelling case to accelerate investment in this space.”

The way health care is delivered in Australia is also rapidly changing post-pandemic, an evolution Mr Koczkar embraces and is keen to see more government focus towards.

“What we call the health transition is now underway in Australia — a move from overnight stays in expensive acute care hospitals to virtual, short stay and home care,” he said.

“It’s exciting to see innovative new care settings that we’ve been championing become more mainstream because it is improving access and enabling greater choice, giving people much more control over their health.”

The avid North Melbourne footy supporter aims to lead his Medibank into this new phase with two values at the forefront.

“In my mind, the role of a leader is two things — to give a voice to all, and to create an environment where people can achieve things they never imagined was possible,” he said.

“To be able to support others in this way, I’ve learnt you need to be 100 per cent authentic and honest in yourself.

“I also think all good leaders are good listeners, but if you start believing everything you hear is positive, it’s all over.”


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