Aetna’s opinion of “public optionâ€ health plans being debated in Congress: Well, we are concerned about it. We don’t think it’s a good idea … We believe the answer is a public-private partnership where the government makes available subsidies and that the 1,300 health plans in the country would compete vigorously, as we do today, to be able to serve those members.
On the specific proposed reform package AETNA supports: I would comment probably most recently on the work of the Senate Finance Committee which was released Sept. 16. It’s a very important bill in terms of making good progress. It represents a good starting point for trying to bring closure to this whole dialogue. And what we’re trying to say is we need to make certain we get something done … The bill is focused on an expectation that everyone over time would be expected to have insurance; that the insurance industry would adopt the reforms that it supports, meaning that we would in the individual market no longer use an individual’s health status. It sets up exchanges–or you could think of them as marketplaces–where an individual could go online and see all the health plans in their community, see their products, and be able to select the one they felt best met their circumstances. It has some other elements of it that would perhaps encourage the cross-state sale of insurance products. As you know, you can borrow from a bank in any state, you can purchase products over the Internet or from companies that are headquartered in any state. In insurance, it’s all been done principally on a state basis. So we think that would increase competition as well.
On how preventative medicine might reduce overall healthcare costs: The research suggests that about 40% of the healthcare costs come from what we call behavioral choices that people make. For example, someone who has diabetes doesn’t necessarily have a choice about having that condition. Whether they follow the doctor’s orders or understand the doctor’s orders, and understand what they need to do to slow down the progression of the disease, is a form of prevention. That’s an important area. We think there needs to be a lot more done, and that’s one of the areas we hope to see continued progress.
On Aetna’s involvement in shaping healthcare reform thus far: I spent a good deal of time in Washington meeting with elected officials, meeting with the president, and other members of his team. The sense I get is they’re listening to everyone. They’re listening to consumer groups. They’re listening to labor. They’re listening to advocacy groups who advocate for particular health conditions … I’ve testified before various committees in Congress. And there’s a good dialogue. And we’re hopeful that the good policy that’s being formulated will not lose out to the politics in this situation.