In the wake of Aetna’s move to reduce its presence on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, various prominent public figures and health policy experts have offered their analysis about what it means.
Aetna’s move threatens to reduce competition by reducing the number of insurers who will offer plans on the exchanges, and could call into question the long-term viability of the ACA. It also adds to the list of major insurers, including UnitedHealth and Humana, that have pointed to significant financial losses on individual plans in ACA markets.
Here's a look at various reactions to the news:
Donald Trump used the news as ammunition for his position that the ACA should be repealed. He said “this broken law…is slowly imploding under its regulatory red tape,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Bernie Sanders said in a statement that people’s ability to get healthcare plans should not be dependent on the “whims” of insurance companies whose goal is to maximize earnings. “That is why we need to join every major country on earth and guarantee healthcare to all as a right, not a privilege,” he added.
We are the only major country that allows private insurance companies to rip us off. We can do better than we’re doing.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 17, 2016
Health insurance companies like Aetna are more concerned with making huge profits than ensuring access to health care for all Americans.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 16, 2016
Elizabeth Warren wondered on her Facebook page whether analysts who say Aetna might use its participation in the exchanges to lobby for its purchase of Humana are right. If so, "the health of the American people should not be used as bargaining chips to force the government to bend to one giant company’s will," she wrote.
Cynthia Cox, a health policy expert from the Kaiser Family Foundation, worried about the implications of competition on the exchanges. “This is really going to be felt in Southern states and rural areas,” she said in an interview with the Associated Press.
Sabrina Corlette, a Georgetown Health Policy Institute researcher, told the AP that marketplace volatility may be here to stay for a few years, and the government may have to alter some of the marketplace rules. But fundamentally, she doesn’t think "the marketplaces are crashing and burning by any means,” she said.