Aetna CEO: Get Ready for Sky-High Hikes in Health Insurance

Wednesday, 19 Dec 2012 07:55 AM

By John Morgan

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Americans can expect to be hit with health insurance premiums that could double in price in the face of Obamacare implementation, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini forecast at the company’s annual investor conference in New York, according to Forbes.

In some markets, the increases could “go as high as 100 percent. And we’ve done all that math. We’ve shared it will all the regulators. We’ve shared it will all the people in Washington that need to see it,” he said.

Another Aetna executive at the conference said Aetna did not expect many small businesses to participate in the health insurance exchanges being set up under Obamacare, Forbes reported.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: ‘Money From Heaven a Path to Hell.’ See Evidence.

The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, provides for exchanges in each state, offering a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can compare and buy insurance (with a government subsidy if eligible). The federal government will operate the exchanges in states where the states themselves decline to do so.

The issue of exchanges is a political hot potato, according to Bertolini. “Whose exchange do you want to show that (premium) price increase on? And surely, the federal government doesn’t want to show that. So I think this is going to be a big debate.”

Forbes contributor Avik Roy claimed that Democrats, who successfully voted to pass Obamacare’s maze of mandates and regulations, now have incentive to put them into place and then blame insurers for the resulting premium hikes.

Aetna, the nation’s third largest private health insurer, said it intends to participate in exchanges in up to 15 states in 2014, representing 65 to 70 percent of the exchange-eligible population.

But the company will be scrutinizing the results closely. “After a transition period, if Aetna cannot earn its cost of capital on exchanges, we will exit the market,” Bertolini said.

In addition, UnitedHealth Group said it would only get involved in exchanges in a “few” states, and Humana said it would get involved in 10 states, Forbes noted.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is actively discouraging states from taking much initiative to set up and running the exchanges themselves, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“[I]t’s dictating details down to the lab coats and microscopes,” The Journal said.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: ‘Money From Heaven a Path to Hell.’ See Evidence.

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