Aetna CEO, Chairman and President Mark Bertolini praised the Affordable Care Act during the HIMSS12 Conference in Las Vegas this week, arguing that while the new law and its regulations have “pulled [the insurance industry] through the crucible” and “reshaped” the health care market, ?For most of what has already been implemented, it has been a pretty good thing”:
So what will the health insurers look like in the future? Bertolini offered a strong endorsement of the accountable health organization model, positioning health insurers as uniquely suited to usher in an era of coordinated care. ?We need to move the system from underwriting risk to managing populations,? he said. ?We want to have a different relationship with the providers, physicians and the hospitals we do business with.? [...]
Pondering the future of the health care exchanges, Bertolini foresees the brands of health systems superceding those of health insurers. ?We want to leverage or technologies and capabilities to allow you to be the face in marketplace,? he said.
Indeed, Bertolini says this new arrangement makes great sense from the perspective of the customer. The lack of coordination inherent in the current system stems largely from the various stakeholders acting rationally in their own self-interest. ?For the patient it?s a nightmare. Think of a hockey game where everybody has their own puck.?
The Aetna chief also “discounted the prospect that the results of the 2012 presidential election or a Supreme Court decision striking down aspects of the ACA would deter the change,” noting, “Reform is not going to stop. It won?t go away.?
Insurers have generally accepted the inevitability of the ACA and have worked to shape its implementation to meet their needs. For instance, health lobbyists are pressuring Congress to repeal taxes on the industry, and have urged the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt exchange regulations that would allow almost all private insurers to participate in the new marketplaces and provide greater leeway for plans to design the standard essential health benefits package that will be offered in 2014. Insurers have also lobbied conservative governors to establish health care exchanges.
At the same time, the industry is preparing for the expansion of new customers. Last September, Cigna ? one of the nation?s largest health insurers ? kicked off a $25 million ad campaign designed to attract the individual consumers who will begin shopping for their own policies and the industry joined forces with health care and consumer groups to form the ?Enroll America? campaign, an effort to ?encourage states to make it easy for people to sign up for coverage, by providing model regulations? and ?get the word out among the uninsured, through advertising and community outreach.?