Aetna CEO defends ObamaCare marketplaces

Aetna CEO defends ObamaCare marketplaces
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Aetna, one of the largest U.S. health insurers, raised its earnings forecast for 2016 even after the company added more customers than expected through the ObamaCare exchanges.

CEO Mark Bertolini told analysts the company does not expect to lose money on the exchange business this year unlike other major insurers, such as UnitedHealth, which recently dropped out of the exchanges.

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Bertolini also mounted a defense of the ObamaCare marketplaces, calling it “a good investment.”

"If we were to go out and buy those members, it would cost us $1.2 billion to buy them. ... So in the broad scheme of things, we are well, well below any of those numbers in terms of the losses in the first two years of the program," he said, according to reports. "So we see this as a good investment."

Aetna is the third-largest health insurer by membership, with 1.2 million members on the exchanges. The company has been closely watched to measure the fate of the ObamaCare marketplaces, especially after the withdrawal of UnitedHealth. 

Bertolini’s optimistic outlook for the ObamaCare exchanges is a change of course from February, when he had “serious concerns” about the sustainability of those markets.  

He also voiced concerns about rising healthcare costs for both his company and the out-of-pocket fees for customers. He said he hoped the Obama administration would allow companies more freedom to tweak individual plans each year.

"We have not been able to touch this product because of the politics, but if we can get to that point, we believe, we are in a very good place to make this a sustainable program," he said on a call with analysts, according to reports.