Philip Ramirez

philip ramirez headshot

Promoting a culture centering around responsiveness, integrity, care in health insurance industry

By Daniel P. Smith

Philip Ramirez (B.S. ’05, M.H.A. ’08) fondly recalls the energy of Dr. Oren Renick’s health law class in the School of Health Administration. He says Renick’s class at Texas State University carried an intellectual intensity unlike any other he had ever encountered.

The weekly mock trials and lively class debates forced Ramirez to evaluate multiple sides of an argument, to search for perspective, and to unpack nuance, context, and facts. Ramirez not only gained a deep appreciation for legal issues but also found himself increasingly drawn to ethics, compliance theory, and “finding the best way to do the right thing.”

“It was a foundational experience for me,” Ramirez says. “Dr. Renick challenged me to be at my very best.”

Today, Ramirez puts that experience to work as the chief compliance officer (CCO) at Prominence Health Plan, a Reno, Nevada-based enterprise that operates health insurance programs and seven accountable care organizations across three states. Leveraging the lessons and tools he gained from Renick and other master’s in health administration courses, Ramirez consistently aims to ensure responsible, streamlined care by removing complexity from the often-befuddling healthcare landscape.

“In graduate school, I cultivated this ability to distill complex things into a simple form and communicate them in a way that makes sense to people,” Ramirez says. “Now, I use that skill every day to see we’re delivering for the individuals who rely on us.”

Ramirez, of course, has long been interested in helping others. After completing two years at Austin Community College, the San Antonio native chose Texas State to pursue a career in speech pathology. “I had a stutter as a boy and went through speech therapy myself,” Ramirez says. “I thought I could make a difference as a clinician.”

Following graduation with a degree in communication disorders, Ramirez practiced as a speech pathologist for two years, supporting schoolchildren as well as other youngsters in early intervention programs. When he began working at a residential center for individuals who had experienced traumatic brain injuries, however, Ramirez began a supervisory role for the first time. “I’m not one who likes sitting back and observing things around me I feel could be done better,” Ramirez says.

That recognition spurred Ramirez to return to Texas State for a graduate degree that would propel him into a healthcare leadership position where he might blend his clinical experience and newfound skills with his deep-seated desire to foster improved outcomes. “I wanted to drive change and help things operate at a higher level,” Ramirez says.

He joined Prominence Health Plan in July 2018 as its director of compliance. Six months later, he was named CCO, an executive position that enables Ramirez to promote a company-wide culture centered around responsiveness, integrity, and, ultimately, care. When a Prominence health plan covering some 5,000 members of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce needed to comply with new laws, Ramirez and his team hustled to ensure that local small-business owners and employees didn’t lose their health insurance. Within a year, Prominence unveiled a revised health plan with competitive rates and rich coverage options now utilized by more than 6,000 individuals.

“That required collaboration and diving deep into the details to find the right solutions,” Ramirez says of an earnest effort he thinks would make Renick proud. “We didn’t leave these folks high and dry but rather created a plan that works for them and gives them the healthcare coverage they deserve.”