UIC Alumni Award winner an innovator on health care scene

Dan Yunker

“We’re making a difference and impacting lives,” says Dan Yunker of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council. Photo: Rick Starkman

When the Affordable Care Act was established in 2010, University of Illinois at Chicago alumnus Dan Yunker accepted the challenge. Having spent most of his 25-year professional career in the health care industry, Yunker understood that consumers would face an uncertain health care environment.

As senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, he envisioned a solution that would reshape consumers’ relationship with health care. In 2012, the council launched Land of Lincoln Health, Illinois’ first consumer-oriented and operated health insurance plan.

“I felt so strongly about this issue that I wasn’t willing to let go, especially knowing how many lives this could impact,” says the Batavia, Illinois resident.

Yunker, a 1992 graduate in psychology in the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.of received the 2015 UIC City Partner Award Sept. 18, presented by UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis at a luncheon on campus.

“It’s been like building a plane while in flight, but we knew this was the right thing to do,” Yunker said of the three-year-old insurance program. “We’re making a difference and impacting lives.”

On the local health care scene, Yunker has a reputation as a game-changing leader. John DeNardo, director of UIC’s master of healthcare administration program, calls him a “distinguished, innovative forward-thinker” with “his finger on the pulse of the changing health care landscape.”

Yunker has been at the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council for the last decade, the past year as president and CEO. He has worked to exchange local health care’s long-standing competitiveness for collaboration.

Yunker spearheaded the MetroChicago Health Information Exchange, which allows Chicago-area health care institutions to securely share patient data so that health care professionals can more quickly treat patients.

“This was less about connecting via technology and more about removing local competitive politics,” Yunker said. “And patients are the ones who benefit.”

Yunker orchestrated the creation of the Center for Advancing Provider Practices, which allows hospitals to better manage their advance-practice registered nurses and physician assistants.

He assisted in developing the Wage Index Review, which helped Chicago-area providers secure $250 million in Medicare reimbursement that the region otherwise would have lost.

As a lecturer in the UIC School of Public Health since 2012, Yunker shares his in-depth knowledge of health care finance with students. He has placed several at Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council and Land of Lincoln Health.

“I hope my students leave equipped to succeed and contribute to the health care field and ready to help their organizations fulfill their missions,” he said.