Aetna CEO Privately Considers Pushing Single-Payer Healthcare

Large insurance companies and Bernie Sanders may get what they both want after all, if recently leaked comments by Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini prove true.

An employee at a recent company meeting asked about the reaction to the Republican plan to begin repealing Obamacare helping to pave the way toward a single-payer system.

Bertolini responded quickly, as tough he’s considered this for a while: “If the government wants to pay all the bills, and employers want to stop offering coverage…” he surmised, “we can be there in a public-private partnership to do the work we do today with Medicare and with Medicaid at every state level, we run the Medicaid programs for them …lets have that conversation.”

Almost immediately, Aetna spokesguy TJ Crawford whipped out an email clarifying, “Bertolini… was certainly not advocating for a single-payer system,” only saying he was open to debating it, “while pointing out that public-private partnerships have worked… when done the right way.”

Right. And McDonald’s offers to Supersize me because it saves me having to come back for more. /sarc

While many insurers fought against the Affordable Care Act when it was being debated in 2009-’10, they may now see a silver lining on the single-payer healthcare concept. Now that the ACA has effectively killed the competitive market for insurance in many places like Iowa, large companies left standing, like Aetna may find a goldmine of low risk, consistent cash flow as of a few providers for government programs. All they have to do is write the invoice, and government “pays all the bills.” Time Magazine recently confirmed that as of 2017, one third of all U.S. counties have only more one ACA-approved insurer. So, maybe we are already there, Mark.

Of course, many of us predicted this seven years ago, even alleging that Obamacare’s inevitable failure was intentional. The always-great Larry Elder astutely reminds us that Harry Reid openly discussed the failure of Obamacare, preparing Nevada for single-payer four years ago, when in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun he said, “What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever.”

Why then did he not even try to improve the holes in Obamacare that they now claim need to be fixed? Perhaps they know the only liberal “fix” is single-payer. They’re waiting for conservatives to screw up the reform process, so the public cries out for it.

Well, insurance companies, in the end are run by capitalists that know how to make a buck. That in itself is a virtue of any free economy. But in a corporatist economy, that’s fascism. Public-private partnerships can healthy way of outsourcing services not best run by governments, but the same reason for that is the same argument against single-payer. What’s the difference between unaccountable, unchallenged government waste and a private company doing the same thing without any competition?



As for Aetna, they may not have many other options. They recently lost two bids to buy Humana and Cigna, losing a billion dollars in the breakup fee of the Humana deal alone. There’s no way they’re going to try that again.

To begin with, the insurance industry is not as lucrative as you might think. As it is, the average net profit of the ten largest insurers is 3.3% on revenue of approximately $430 billion (United Health Care alone is about 1/3 of that). The CEOs must see dollar signs at the prospect of lifting that profit margin even a couple percent points.

With less competition in the healthcare market, voters are going to become anxious for change when they become patients without choices. We need to be alert and ready to push for real reform before imsurance lobbyists turn against the very free market ideals that helped create their industry. Everyone but the driver loses in the end if we try putting out a small barn fire with a bulldozer.





About the author

Ed Willing

View all posts