Lisa Lucile Owens 0

Aetna Inc. and Our Commitment to Healthcare for All

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Dear President Bollinger & Director Bernitz,

In August 2016, Aetna Health Insurance announced that it would exit 11 of 15 state healthcare exchanges where it offers health insurance. As members of a community committed to continuous progress in healthcare access, and as Aetna subscribers, we the undersigned are deeply disappointed in Aetna’s decision and ask Columbia University to reconsider its choice of Aetna for the provision of health insurance to its affiliates. Here are the facts:

1. Aetna has reported losses on their individual insurance coverage programs. However, Aetna overall reports and projects steady gains. The last quarter of 2015 saw a 38% increase in profit. In his Chairman’s Letter, Aetna CEO Mr. Mark T. Bertolini highlighted Aetna’s 2015 “record annual operating revenue and operating earnings.”

2. It has been reported that the move to exit the state exchanges is due to a pending antitrust case against Aetna, the third largest insurer in the country, related to the acquisition of another large insurance company.

3. We are cognizant that for the multiple-payer healthcare system that we have in the United States to remain viable in the long term, healthcare exchanges must be able to provide low cost health insurance options. For that to happen, participating companies must be able to balance the “pool of risk”. To the extent that the provisions of the Affordable Care Act prove insufficient to achieve that balance, pressure ought to be placed on Congress to improve the law. What Columbia University should not accept is to continue to do business with a highly profitable company that elects to leave the health care exchanges, risking a domino effect of other companies also abandoning the exchanges.

At Columbia, we have access to healthcare and health insurance. We must not fail to protect this right for all, especially the many in more vulnerable positions who stand to lose their access to affordable health insurance if corporate shortsightedness is allowed to sabotage the mechanisms of health insurance provision. Healthcare is a fundamental and hard-earned right in America, and we cannot stand by and let corporate greed risk this right.

We petition Columbia University to take steps towards ending our relationship with Aetna Inc. unless and until it re-affirms its ethical commitment to all of us in the United States by at least remaining in the current healthcare exchanges it participates in.


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