Thank you, Aetna, for wanting us to know. Your boldness is breathtaking and your timing is impeccable. This month, as the Senate is embroiled in heated debate over health care reform, one might expect insurance companies to be on their best behavior – the same way restaurants are when the health inspector drops by. But not you, Aetna. You don’t care how closely your policies are being scrutinized on the national stage – you still have the guts to make fearless corporate decisions:

AetnaHealth insurance giant Aetna is planning to force up to 650,000 clients to drop their coverage next year as it seeks to raise additional revenue to meet profit expectations… In an effort to improve on a less-than-anticipated profit margin in 2009, they would be raising prices on their consumers in 2010. The insurance giant predicted that the company would subsequently lose between 300,000 and 350,000 members next year from its national account as well as another 300,000 from smaller group accounts.

"The pricing we put in place for 2009 turned out to not really be what we needed to achieve the results and margins that we had historically been delivering," said chairman and CEO Ron Williams. "We view 2010 as a repositioning year, a year that does not fully reflect the earnings potential of our business. Our pricing actions should have a noticeable effect beginning in the first quarter of 2010, with additional financial impact realized during the remaining three quarters of the year."

Very impressive, Aetna! Not once in that quote did your CEO make reference to sick people, or people who might die from lack of coverage, or people who will go bankrupt trying to afford higher premiums. In fact, Mr. Williams didn’t let the concept of people and their pesky needs interfere at all with his important considerations of "business," "pricing," "results," "margins," "earnings potential," or "financial impact." No danger here of health insurance becoming something more than profit-seeking.

So thank you again, Aetna, for wanting us to know; for making it crystal clear at this crucial point in the debate that for-profit care doesn’t care at all. It’s long past time for a health system that is based on helping people and not just on the bottom line.

Jim Moss

Jim Moss