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Wilbert Jones helps local residents sign up for the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as
Thursday morning, Aetna Chief Executive Mark Bertolini reported the company's first quarter results under the Affordable Care Act, a report that essentially tracks with the Congressional Budget Office's updated, optimistic forecast of large enrollments and modest premium hikes. Bertolini told reporters that enrollments were robust:
Aetna has added 230,000 paying customers from ACA exchanges, and it projects to end the year with 450,000 paid customers. It said it can't yet draw a "meaningful conclusion" about the population's overall health status. In January, Bertolini said the early enrollment mix had looked better than he expected."
That means Aetna is expecting to double its customer base from Obamacare in the first year, which is pretty much in line with what the CBO projected for enrollments.

Bertolini also reported that premium increases will be divergent. The company is on the exchange in 17 states (with 132 separate rating areas), and premium increases in 2015 will range from "the very low single digits" to "some that will be over double digits." The variation is because of the variation in rating areas, the cost of health care in those areas and the general risk pool within them. But the key part is that "about half of the company's premium increases, whatever they turn out to be, will be attributable to 'on the fly' regulatory changes made by the Obama administration."

That's good news because it's those regulatory changes—he pointed to the decision by the administration to give states the authority to allow sub-standard policies to continue for a few years—being a big chunk of the increases instead of the fact that the company has been overwhelmed with older or sicker customers. The risk pools are sustainable and that dreaded "death spiral" Republicans have been praying for isn't happening.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 12:52 PM PDT.

Also republished by Obamacare Saves Lives and Daily Kos.

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