More Negative Obamacare News Has Some Suggesting It's "Unsustainable"

Date: August 18, 2016

A huge insurer is leaving certain Obamacare exchanges, potentially hanging small businesses out to dry in the future.

In another blow to Obamacare, insurance giant Aetna announced on Aug. 15 that the company would be pulling out of the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 11 states, reducing its presence to only four states in 2017, CNBC reported. This will further restrict healthcare options for patients at the same time that healthcare premiums under the law continue to rise dramatically for small businesses, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report.

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“If the major insurers keep cutting back, it could lead to a cascade of effects for the people who depend on the marketplaces for coverage,” The New York Times reported. “People could potentially face higher premiums because there are fewer insurers competing, and they could have more limited choices of plans and doctors.” 

Aetna executives are blaming heavy losses as their reason for pulling out of the exchanges. The company incurred $200 million in second-quarter pretax losses alone and over $430 million in pretax losses from Obamacare exchanges since 2014, Business Insider reported. But that might not be the whole picture.

Huffington Post reporters filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a letter from Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini written to the Department of Justice that makes it seem as though the company is leaving the exchanges in response to the DOJ’s decision to try to block the company’s merger with Humana. 

“It is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely and plan for additional business efficiencies should our deal ultimately be blocked,” Bertolini wrote. 

Aetna is the third major insurer to significantly reduce its presence in Affordable Care Act exchanges, according to CNBC. 

“Paired with some looming rate increases for next year’s health plans, the abrupt departure of Aetna has triggered new worries that Obamacare—a subsidized public-private system of health insurance plans competing for beneficiaries—is in serious trouble and may even be unsustainable,” The Huffington Post reported.

Photo credit: LaDawna Howard

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