Letter | Gov’t not to rely on private insurers

The Aetna Insurance Company is claiming it is losing money as a participant in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  It is instructive how the Des Moines Register reacted to this news in a recent editorial.  An excerpt from the Iowa newspaper follows:

“Government should not rely on private insurers. Aetna announced last week that it was reducing participation in health insurance exchanges created by the ACA.  It will sell plans in only four states next year, including Iowa, down from 15 this year. This follows similar market exits from UnitedHealth Group and Humana.

This is yet another reminder of why government should not rely on private companies to deliver health insurance to Americans.  History has repeatedly shown this a costly, dangerous and unsustainable idea.  Yet politicians refuse to listen to history.

When Medicare was created in 1965, the goal was to insure seniors through a program administered by the government. In traditional Medicare, Uncle Sam directly pays providers for health services.  The program is reliable, predictable and has low administrative costs.

In a July 5 letter, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini informed the Justice Department that if it sued to block Aetna’s deal to acquire Humana Inc., the insurer would reduce its presence in exchanges.  The Obama administration says such a merger would increase consumer costs.

‘If the deal were challenged and/or blocked we would need to take immediate actions to mitigate public exchange and ACA small group losses,’ he wrote.

Is that a warning?  A threat?  And how is the Obama administration supposed to respond?

Americans’ access to health insurance should not depend on the profit margins, business dealings or mergers of for-profit companies. Not in Medicare. Not in Medicaid. And not in exchanges created by health reform law.  Instead of funneling tax dollars to private companies, government is better equipped to administer insurance.  It is not beholden to stockholders.  It does not seek to turn a profit.  And it will not abandon the responsibility of providing health coverage to Americans.

Expansion of Medicare covering all citizens of every age would solve lots of existing problems and give us as a nation better health.”

David Ross Stevens

Borden, Ind. 47106