Major health insurers have said recently that they may eventually have to ditch the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) individual insurance marketplace, saying that the pool of consumers they’re covering simply isn’t profitable.
UnitedHealthGroup, the largest private insurer in the country, has hinted that 2016 is the marketplace’s last chance to prove itself worthy of the company’s participation.
Even if they’re not making big bucks on Obamacare, it’s not as if health insurers are hurting. Despite its $245 million of losses on its PPACA business, UnitedHealth, for instance, reported a profit of $1.22 billion last year.
In this context, the CEO of the second largest insurer, Aetna (currently in the midst of a bid to buy Humana), is signaling that his company plans to stick with the marketplace, despite the lackluster beginning.
The pledge from Mark Bertolini likely reflects the belief that as the business matures, insurers will be able to make it profitable. However, his stated commitment to the marketplace is also political; it sends the message that the insurer is willing to do something for the good of the country, even if it may conflict with its business interests.