Mark Bertolini

Last week, I reported on my informal survey of health insurance companies and their estimate for how much rates will rise on account of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

Today, there are press reports quoting the CEO of Aetna with their estimate. The Aetna estimate is worse than mine.

From Bloomberg:

Health insurance premiums may as much as double for some small businesses and individual buyers in the U.S. when the Affordable Care Act’s major provisions start in 2014, Aetna Inc. (AET)’s chief executive officer said.

While subsidies in the law will shield some people, other consumers who make too much for assistance are in for “premium rate shock,” Mark Bertolini, who runs the third-biggest U.S. health-insurance company, told analysts yesterday at a conference in New York. The prospect has spurred discussion of having Congress delay or phase in parts of the law, he said.

“We’ve shared it all with the people in Washington and I think it’s a big concern,” the CEO said. “We’re going to see some markets go up as much as as 100 percent.”

Continue reading “More Signs of Rate Shock and Awe”

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This year at Health 2.0′s Annual Conference, two speakers split stage time during the opening keynote. Joe Flower, a health futurist, and Mark Bertolini, CEO of health insurer Aetna, don’t have a whole lot in common professionally. But in their talks they both made clear that they hold two beliefs in common: the United States health care system needs to react to the country’s cost crisis, and efforts to address health care costs will happen independently from federal reform.

Flower spoke first, laying out the tenets of what he calls the Next Health Care. For such an optimistic speech, it was filled with negatives. Flower went through step by step, talking about what the nation isn’t doing right now, who’s not invested in better care, and why all health care systems can’t just become Kaisers.

Though the talk certainly wasn’t meant to praise health care for all it does right, it was meant to point out the promise that the health care system could be on the brink of.

“Health care is undergoing fundamental economic changes,” Flower said. “These changes are driving us to what may well be better and cheaper health care for everyone.”

The Affordable Care Act isn’t what’s propelling those changes, according to Flower. It’s other factors including an aging population, the sheer cost of care in the U.S., and technological capability that we’ve never seen until now.

Chronic disease accounts for 70 to 75% of all health care costs, Flower said. And as many Americans know, obesity is a huge contributor to those costs. The maps looked at the projection of obesity rates in the U.S. over time, and as the slides passed it looked like the country was being eaten by the disease.

“Now, some of the best hopes for that future, honestly, we see right here at Health 2.0. But we are not there yet,” Flower said.
Continue reading “A Tale of Two Keynotes: Futurist Joe Flower and Aetna’s Mark Bertolini”

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I’ve been saying it for years (and in 3D and Technicolor in my new book Healthcare Beyond Reform): The Standard Model of Healthcare (the traditional unmodified fee-for-service, commodified, defined-benefit payment system) is broken and doomed. It’s fascinating to hear that even the CEO of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, said exactly that recently at a major healthcare technology conference — and that Forbes, a bastion of business and the private approach to everything, would publish an article on his remarks.

At Health 2.0 last fall, Bertolini said that he no longer thinks of Aetna as an insurance company, but primarily as an information company. This time, he made these main points:

Continue reading “Even Aetna CEO Admits: We’re Toast”

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In its wisdom, the Supreme Court of the United States may decide to overturn the Obama administration’s health reform legislation.

The Supreme Court of the United States may decide not to.

Mitt Romney may unseat Barrack Obama and wrest the Presidency away from the Democrats. Or he may not.

In a way, these things may not actually matter.

There may be uncertainty on Wall Street and in the media about the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the upcoming presidential election, but the mood in the crowd gathered at the 9th session of the World Health Care Congress last week in Washington was  curiously upbeat.

There was a sense that health care is making progress.

And that is a good thing.

Innovations like accountable care organizations (ACOs), scientific management principles like cost containment and quality improvement and the movement for better health information technology will make their presence felt, regardless of what happens in the courts and on Election Day.

Unlike TEDMED, which brought together official Washington, the tech industry, entertainment and medicine — at the Kennedy Center last week, the World Health Care Congress is a meeting pretty much limited to health care industry insiders at larger firms.

As is generally the case, the speakers list read like a who’s who of very important healthcare names. Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson, Intermountain CEO Charles Sorensen, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, Economists Ezekiel Emanuel and Jonathan Gruber, former OMB Director Peter Orzag, TEDMED curator (Priceline.com) Jay Walker talked about the power of the Internet to fundamentally rewire the way people think. Verizon CEO and NantWorks Founder Patrick Soon-Shiong were on hand to talk up a new collaboration. Xerox CEO Ursula Barnes introed the tech giant’s push into healthcare. Journos like Health Affairs Editor Susan Dentzer and NBC correspondent Nancy Snyderman provided media star power.

Continue reading “Dispatch from Washington”

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